St. Joe’s Not Only Kept Jay Davis Alive, But Enabled Him to Thrive

Jay Davis, a London transplant who has called Tampa Bay his home since 2005, was a cross country athlete and an avid soccer player throughout his teen years. In the summer of 2012, the then-20-year-old was out on a Wednesday night catching up with a few friends, enjoying their company and the laughter which always ensued when they were together.

As they were driving home northbound on I275, their carefree evening turned into a perpetual nightmare, when a drunk driver, travelling at 75mph entered the highway on the opposite side in the wrong direction, and changed their lives forever.

Out of nowhere, a pair bright of headlights headed straight toward them.

“We swerved to the right to try and avoid the collision, but it was too late,” recalls Jay, his discomfort palpable as he revisited the memory of that night.

Jay remembers hearing screams, and then as the oncoming vehicle hit them head on, moving forward no more than a foot before everything went black. When he regained consciousness a few moments later, he tried to get his bearings. He had been partially ejected through the windshield and the first thing he remembers feeling was the heat of the engine against his body.

“When I saw the condition the car was in, I couldn’t believe I’d survived. I began checking myself by trying to move different things. My arms were ok, I could breathe, but then I realized I couldn’t feel my legs.”

Jay turned to his faith. 

“I was convinced these were my last moments, I was going to die, and I was helpless to try and stop it. I laid there literally waiting for the car to burst into flames. I started praying.”

He continued to fall in and out of consciousness. Paramedics arrived in multiple ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, even a helicopter hovered. One paramedic communicated to Jay that the driver, his best friend, unfortunately, didn’t make it. Jay was heartbroken.

He remembers when the fireman started sawing off the roof of the car to extract him from the vehicle and then nothing else until he woke up at St. Joseph’s, laying in a hospital bed being wheeled into the ICU in a neck brace.

“When the doctors saw me awake, they explained I was headed into surgery to repair my most acute injury, a damaged leg. One of the nurses squeezed my hand reassuringly.”

But the road recovery was going to be a long and difficult one, as his leg surgery was the first of many to come while he was at St. Joe’s. An overall analysis of his injuries revealed, among other things, a cranial fracture on the front right part of his skull, which then caused a hematoma inside the skull; a broken right orbital bone below his eye; a broken nose; broken C1 & C2 vertebrae, which allow the head to turn from left and right; and broken pelvis and hip bones.

“I was a mess. But the doctors at St. Joe’s had seen worse, and they didn’t give up on me.”

Jay stayed in the ICU for three weeks after the accident, during which time the doctors and nurses helped him heal both physically and emotionally.

“I recall having nurses come in to talk to me to keep me company. Some nurses cried with me – others just came in to hold my hand. It was so subtle, but it meant so much.”

Once Jay was released, he received at-home PT and rehab care for a full year. At first, he could barely walk or turn his head. He was in neck brace for seven months. But he was blessed to be alive.

“The Physical Therapy I received during this time was so very important, because it set the foundation of what the rest of my life was going to look like. If I had given up and didn’t push through, I might have been sitting in a wheelchair, or I could have lost my leg altogether. I am grateful for those nurses and PT specialists who spent months teaching me the proper exercises that allow me to live a relatively normal life today. If you were to look at me, you would never guess what I had been through.”

This traumatic occurrence could have been a setback in this young man’s life, but he didn’t make it one.

“There were definitely days when it would have been easier to just give up. But then I would think about my best friend, and I pushed forward. The staff at St. Joe’s was with me every step of the way and the excellent care I received made a huge difference in my recovery.”

Jay is now thirty; ten years have passed since the accident. He still has neck issues due to the C1 & C2 break; his leg is not 100% back to normal, and his body is stiff most mornings. But with St. Joe’s help he went from a strong-willed young man praying whilst partially ejected through the windshield of a vehicle to living his life to the fullest. When his body was in shambles St. Joe’s made miracles happen beyond what he had ever expected – he is now running races again.

“I hope that by sharing my story, people will see how truly blessed I was to have St. Joe’s expert doctors and nurses keep me not only alive but help me thrive. I couldn’t be more grateful.”