Jefferson University Hospitals

Rebecca's Steps Towards a Bright Future

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Trauma Patient Story Rebecca and Trauma Team

“Jefferson’s amazing trauma team saved my life and continues to walk with me – one step at a time.”

Schoolteacher Rebecca Levenberg loves her family and friends, her career as a special education teacher, biking and roller blading. She often biked from her home in South Philadelphia to the Center City charter school where she worked.

But one morning, Rebecca’s ride was cut short – suddenly, frighteningly and painfully.

Without warning, a wide-turning garbage truck unexpectedly crossed into the bike lane and knocked her off her bike, crushing her leg and causing serious internal injuries.

Fortunately, Rebecca was rushed to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and placed in the care of team members from the Jefferson Comprehensive Traumatic Injury Program who saved her life. So began her long, challenging and ultimately triumphant journey back – on her feet, on her bike and to the life she loves.

A Team You Can Trust

The Jefferson Comprehensive Traumatic Injury Program’s experienced staff includes highly skilled critical care-boarded traumatologists (surgeons specializing in trauma) as well as trauma-certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Our specialists’ expertise is matched by their compassion, as Rebecca soon discovered.

“When I was rushed into the trauma room that morning, there was a flurry of lights and activity around me. I was panicked and in pain,” she recalls. “But one doctor stood up at my head and told me I was going to be okay. He told me, very gently, that I needed surgery.”

“‘We’ll take care of you,’ he said soothingly. ‘Don’t worry.’”

“With those calm words, I knew I was in capable hands.  In his care, I felt safe.”

Rebecca’s extensive injuries resulted in an above-knee amputation of her badly damaged left leg and more than a dozen surgeries at Jefferson. These surgeries were followed by many months of intensive rehabilitation as Rebecca rebuilt her strength and learned to walk on a prosthetic leg.

None of this was easy for Rebecca, an avid biker and in-line skater.

The Journey Begins

Early in her hospital stay, an aunt and uncle from Florida sent Rebecca a necklace inscribed with the ancient Chinese proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Over the many months of her care and recovery the quote stuck with Rebecca.

So, as she made progress, she decided to walk 1,000 miles on her prosthetic leg.

Rebecca began her journey exactly eight months after the accident. Four months later, her Jefferson team -- trauma surgeons, nurses, PTs, OTs, dieticians and other staff – invited her to mark the one-year anniversary of the accident by walking Mile 160 with them around the Jefferson campus.

Nearly a year and a half later, accompanied by friends and relatives, Rebecca rode the final mile of her 1,000-mile challenge on her bicycle.  She and her group took the route she was traveling on the day of the accident. 

Accomplishing her 1,000th milestone was just the beginning. Rebecca has traveled more than 1,500 miles since – on her feet, on her bike and on her roller blades. She is forever grateful for the skill and compassion of her Jefferson caregivers.  

“Jefferson’s amazing trauma team saved my life,” says Rebecca. “And they’ve continued to walk with me – one step at a time. They’ve brought hope to me and my family, and have kept us moving forward. In that way, they’ve become much, much more than a medical team.”

Jefferson’s Trauma team showed Rebecca the patience, support and compassion she needed, at a time she needed it most. Along with the determination to overcome obstacles and return to the life she loves, Rebecca continues to move forward one step at a time.

Read Jefferson's blog, @Jeff, to learn more about Rebecca's thousand mile journey. 

Jefferson’s Traumatic Injury Program

Jefferson is the only hospital in Philadelphia – and one of only 14 in the nation – to have an accredited Level I Trauma Center, staffed and equipped to treat a wide variety of trauma-related conditions, and a federally designated Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center. Achieving and maintaining these designations takes hard work and a 24/7 commitment to providing exceptional care in the most critical situations.

Transfer to Jefferson

To initiate a transfer to Jefferson, ask your physician to call the Jefferson Transfer Center, at 1-800-JEFF-121 (1-800-533-3121).