Palm Springs
105° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Local teenager making great strides in recovery

By Megan Terlecky, Anchor / Reporter, megan.terlecky@cbslocal2.com
Published On: Nov 08 2012 08:50:19 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 09 2012 02:44:17 PM CST

NOW TO AN EXCLUSIVE STORY. A VALLEY TEENAGER RUN OVER AND LEFT FOR DEAD -- IN A HIT AND RUN -- IS MAKING REMARKABLE PROGRESS. NEARLY TWO MONTHS SINCE THE HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT LEFT GRANT VIRGIN IN A COMA. SOME DOCTORS THOUGHT HE WOULDN'T MAKE IT. BUT NOW VIRGIN IS TALKING, AND DETERMINED TO GET BETTER.

Los Angeles, Calif. -

A Valley teenager run over and left for dead is making remarkable progress.  
It's been nearly two months since the hit and run accident left him in a coma width so many broken bones doctors thought he wouldn't make it.
But Grant Virgin is talking and getting ready to leave the ICU for what will be a long rehab.
We spent the day with Grant and his family as they continue the long road to recovery.
John Virgin, Grant's father, offers him some fruit, "Want another?"

"Ya," says Grant.
 
Even the simple task of eating a strawberry is a gift.

"Its quite the luxury to have your son do that," says John Virgin.
For this once vibrant 16 year old, daily tasks are difficult.

"Last night, he put his own shirt on so he is working with both hands," said Virgin.Grant Virgin has spent nearly two months in the ICU at Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

"He's gotten the most amazing care," says John Virgin. "The fact is without the skill of the health care folks here, he probably wouldn't be here."

Grant's progress is nothing short of remarkable."He was in a Glasgow three coma, that's like being a brick," said JJ Virgin, Grant's mother.

The accident on September 10th left Grant with ten fractures, a crushed aorta, and a severe brain injury.  That's a prognosis most people, let alone a child, don't survive. "Actually, there was a time in Palm Springs that I thought he was gone," said John Virgin.

The surgery Grant needed was a long helicopter ride away, one that doctors believed he might not survive.
"We have a one and a half percent chance, we'll take that," said JJ Virgin.

Grant's parent's insisted he be flown to Los Angeles.

"That first night we went against what that doctor recommended and I am really bothered by that because I think most parents would have just given up that night," said JJ Virgin.

Grant's parents believe he survived because of his younger brother Bryce.

"Before they airlifted him to this facility, Bryce had a chat with him," said John Virgin.

"Basically told Grant that we were going to see him over at the next hospital, he was strong.  If anyone could make it through he could, and I just felt like Grant came back," said JJ Virgin.

"In my heart I believe that that is why he is still here," said John Virgin.

Since then, their lives have been on hold, splitting time between Grant at the hospital in Torrance, and Palm Desert with Bryce.

"I have a business where I can sit in the ICU with a laptop and run it.  How lucky is that? I feel so fortunate that I have been able to be there," said JJ Virgin.

For nearly two months Grant has never been alone. "He is not coming out of this functional; he is coming out of this a 110 percent better than he came into it," said JJ Virgin.

His parents will do everything to make that a reality, from bringing in their own food, to tapping into some of the best medical research in the country.  That is something they have access to because Grant's mother, a celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, happens to be their friend. "He is healing way faster than anyone else of a similar caliber of an injury has and I wouldn't expect anything less of him that is kind of how he's always been," said Bryce.

Even now you can see Grant is determined to get better. "I'll be walk," says Grant. "Ya you'll be walking you bet you will, of course you will," said John Virgin. "Ya walk," replies Grant.

"Even though we continue to tell him he's not allowed to stand because he can't weight bear, he still tries to every time," explains Bryce.

Its easy to forget Grant is still a teenager.  He said his first words, " I love you," not to his parents, but to his girlfriend.

"Do you love Mackenzie?" asked John Virgin.

"Ya," replied Grant.

But its not always easy.  "We've got somebody with his own mind now, things have gotten a little more difficult for the nursing staff because he is a big strong kid," said John Virgin.

But each moment, good and bad, is a moment Grant's parents are grateful for. "I am so blessed to be punched or kicked or yelled at or angry with or it is such a luxury that he is here to do that," said John Virgin.

"I was feeding him the other day and he looked straight at me and this was when he was going yes no, and he said 'I love you so much.' I thought it is so worth it," said JJ Virgin.

"It gets you up in the morning to come in to see what's going to be next and there is the fear that you come in one day and that will be it that's as far as it went," said John Virgin.

Grant's bones have nearly healed but his brain has a long way to go.

"He'll never be the same person that he was, no he never will, he will never be that person but that doesn't mean that the person that he will be won't be a wonderful person.  So what I have to look forward to is everyday I get to find out who is that going to be."

So far that person is someone who likes to hold hands and a person who is showing no signs of giving up.  "If he wants to get something he is going to end up getting it somehow," said Bryce.

"That was Grant's quote before this," said John Virgin. "You just can not quit, you just didn't get that memo."

The community isn't giving up either, well wishes are coming in from all over the world.

"There is a woman who went to every cathedral in France and lit a candle for Grant," said John Virgin.

Even a complete stranger is organizing a fundraiser to help the family out financially.  "There is good in the world," said John Virgin.

"I don't know how you couldn't look at all of this and say there isn't something bigger at work here," said JJ Virgin. "I think its a gift honestly."

Investigators have never found the woman who hit Grant and Grant's parents have come to terms with that, focusing instead on healing their son.
     A fundraiser is being held Friday from 5:30 to 7:00pm in Old Town La Quinta at the Lawn.
     There will be live music and performances as opportunities to donate.
     All proceeds will go to the Virgin family to help with medical costs.
     The family does have health insurance, but that only goes so far.