BARNESVILLE, MN (Valley News Live) Imagine waking up in the hospital not remembering what happened or who your loved ones are. That’s the case for 25-year-old Fargo resident Molly Greiff.
“Molly’s very much a live in the moment kind of person,” her aunt Elizabeth Nelson says of Greiff’s personality.
Greiff was helping move items into the loft of a barn while visiting friends in western North Dakota when she turned to say something to a friend behind her and missed a drop in the loft’s landing. Without any railings to grab onto, Greiff lost her balance and “sat” on the ledge of the loft. But because of momentum, she continued over the edge, falling 13 feet to the floor below head and shoulders first.
A quick thinking friend kept Greiff from moving and rolled her onto her side to ease her breathing while calling the paramedics. But he didn’t just ask for an ambulance, he insisted on a Flight for Life helicopter come to get Greiff from the rural farmstead. And they did.
“When they life flight you that’s life and death,” Elizabeth said. Greiff arrived at a hospital in Bismarck in critical condition. Her skull had fractured from the back base over top about half way up and had also split open at the back, causing her to bleed heavily. The impact had caused a traumatic brain injury and fractured or broke many vertebrae, but that wasn’t the worst of it.
Without knowing the extent of Greiff’s injuries, her mother Sarah Nelson raced from her home near Pelican Rapids to Elizabeth’s house and onto Bismarck. And they didn’t get good news when they arrived.
“The doctor sat down with us and you know said she had a severe spinal cord injury and that she can’t feel anything from about 4 inches above the belly button down,” Elizabeth Nelson said.
Elizabeth says after about a day and a half in the hospital Greiff underwent surgery to place two rods and 11 screws in her neck to stabilize the broken and fractured vertebrae. Greiff underwent a second surgery five days later to fix a small spinal fluid leak surrounding her spinal cord.
And the injuries weren’t just showing physically. “The brain injury has really affected her short term memory and that’s getting better they think she’ll recover from that,” Elizabeth said.
Despite some setbacks, Greiff was able to be transferred to a specialized rehabilitation facility in Colorado at Craig Hospital. There she’ll undergo intense therapy to try and regain as much movement as possible in her lower body, learn how to work with her “new” body, and work on strengthening her short term memory.
There’s also no guarantee she’ll walk again. “I think if she were to ever to walk again it would be a long time – long time,” Elizabeth said.
It won’t be easy though when Greiff returns from Colorado. Sarah says, “at this point we have to just assume she’s going to come home in a wheel chair,” but her current apartment isn’t accessible and neither are any family members’ homes. She’ll need a specialized wheelchair due to her petite size and may require assistance, even if she lives independently.
The costs of Greiff’s current and future medical care and other expenses associated with her injuries won’t be small, but those in her hometown of Barnesville are rallying to help.
The 34 Club Bar and Grill hosted a Spaghetti Feed, Silent Auction, and Raffle on Sunday with the proceeds going to Greiff’s recovery. Community members, family and friends poured in by the dozens to bid on items like a Matt Cullen jersey or enter their name into the raffle for a hotel weekend in lake country.
More importantly, they were there to show their support for those like Elizabeth and Sarah who have been by Greiff’s side through it all. Which they’ve done with a sense of thankfulness and humor. “She’s very, very lucky to be alive I mean most people don’t survive a fall like that,” Elizabeth says, “I told Molly when you come home I’m sticking you in a bubble and you’re never leaving.”
If you would like to donate to Molly Greiff’s YouCaringPage, the link is to the right of this article. You can also send monetary donations to:
Molly Greiff Benefit Account c/o Wells Fargo
202 Front Street North
Barnesville, MN 56514