Yorkville Teen Survives High-Risk Surgery

WHEELING – Hailey Ullom, the Yorkville resident who received spinal reconstruction surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, is back home after nearly losing her life.

Ullom, 18, the daughter of Melissa Uarich-Ullom, had the surgery three weeks ago – a procedure meant to prevent her spine from turning inward, damaging her organs during the next five years. Ullom said after the surgery, the doctors did not know if Hailey was going to survive. It was considered a high-risk procedure from the beginning, but necessary to save Hailey’s organs in the future.

“We saw a miracle happen,” the elder Ullom said, adding the, “world’s top anesthesia doctors said she had a possible blood clot and penetrated her feet with needles on Thursday and Saturday. On Friday, she was pinched by her surgeons hands and responded.”

“Saturday, they turned pain meds back on to let her be comfortable if she passed. She woke up from a coma on Sunday. She progressed quickly and was released last Wednesday night against the odds that she wasn’t coming home. I hit my knees last Saturday night in the hotel lobby and prayed and stated I was not leaving Cleveland without her. The next day she woke up on her own.”

Ullom said when they finally left the hospital “every doctor and nurse and her surgeon was in shock.”

“Her surgeon put his arm around me on Wednesday and said while we looked at her, ‘It’s amazing, just absolutely amazing,’ and we both cried. After thanking him for saving her life and explaining to him his hands were a gift from God, he took me by my hand and said, ‘No, you saved her life and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with her.’ He lightly touched her face and told her she was an angel,” Ullom said. “I, along with a select few others, saw a miracle in Cleveland in the last few weeks. Hailey has changed the world and the way so many view life. She is definitely an angel.”

Hailey was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. She cannot talk or walk and uses a wheelchair. The surgery involved reconstructing her spine using tricalcium phosphate and has only been performed a handful of times.

To help offset costs related to the surgery and travel, family friend John Simmons, a Wheeling resident, has organized the Helping Hailey Night at the Races fundraiser event slated for 6 p.m. June 1 at the Italian American Club on Sycamore Avenue in Elm Grove. Tickets are $20 per person and include food and draft beer. There will also be a 50-50 raffle, door prizes and poker.