By Daniel J .Vance MS, LPC, NCC
Sometimes good arises from tragedy. Such has been the case with New York attorney Patrick Donohue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, and his lovely daughter, Sarah Jane Donohue.
Nine years ago, when Sarah Jane was just five days old, a hired nurse for an unknown reason violently broke her collarbone and four ribs, and gave her a severe pediatric acquired brain injury (PABI). This would lead to Sarah Jane having a pervasive disability affecting her ability to walk, stand, talk, and eat. PABI is the nation's leading cause of child death and disability. About 750.000 American children with new brain injuries visit hospitals annually.
Now on a personal mission with Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, Donohue has been trying to change awareness of and aggressively support research on and develop successful treatments for children with PABI.
For instance, with one initiative last September, the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation started The International Academy of HOPE, a school for children with PABI. Donohue believes America needs schools specifically for children with PABI, similar to existing schools for children with blindness or deafness. In a telephone interview, Donohue said, “It's the only school in New York City for children with PABI. Our approach is highly specialized because no two brain injuries are the same. And we're having remarkable results.”
One student last fall, he said, could barely stand and couldn't speak, and now is walking around school and telling her mother she loves her. Another student being fed through a G-tube was barely moving last September and now is chewing food and scratching her dad's back.
He said, “We started with six and now have 19 students, and expect to have 40 by summer. The president of Sarah Jane Brain Foundation is Dr. Ron Savage, one of the world's foremost experts on rehabilitation and education of children with disabilities. He has designed the school. His goal is to make it the best of its kind in the world and replicate the model around the country and world.”
One key piece of the school's success has been a comprehensive medical/education model, one that medically stabilizes the student before moving on educationally.
Said Donahue, “To keep moving forward, I have a daily inspiration named Sarah Jane. I ask people to keep the prayers coming because they're working.” Donahue also has been working closely with the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders toward a comprehensive PABI plan.
Contact: danieljvance.com [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]