Stan and Jayne Wetschler were at their new home in North Carolina on November 15th, when they received a call no parent wants to receive. Their son Matthew had been in an accident, and was seriously injured.
Matthew, age 37, had been body surfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco that day with a friend. At one point, his friend noticed he had not seen Matthew for about 10 minutes. At the same time, a gentleman from Australia who had been surfing, saw Matthew floating face down in the water and pulled his body to shore. Two nurses, who just happened to be at the beach that day, ran to help.
Dr. Ryan Mattie had visited the beach that day as well. Deciding the current looked too strong to continue surf, he was on his way home when he came across Matthew and the individuals attempting to revive him. Dr. Mattie continued CPR, noting Matthew was unresponsive, had no pulse and the color of his skin was purple and grey. The ambulance arrived shortly after, and Matthew was transported to UCSF Hospital.
“The person who rescued me (performed CPR) is Ryan Mattie, and he is standing to the left of the picture. On the right, is Sebastian (the Australian who actually dragged me out of the water), followed by my friend, Mark, with whom I went to the beach that day. This was taken when all of us met for the first time since the accident (several days after the accident) in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at UCSF Zuckerberg Pavillion.” – Matthew
At the time of initial evaluation, he was found to be paralyzed from the neck down. An MRI of his cervical spine showed significant spinal cord trauma, as well as a few fractures. He underwent emergency surgery where a spinal fusion procedure as well as multilevel laminectomies were performed. He was transferred to the Santa Clara Valley Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation unit. Utilizing the latest technology, a robotic exoskeleton is helping him ambulate, and he continues to make remarkable, incremental, progress.
Throughout all of this, Matthew’s parents Stan and Jayne have been guests at JW House. They will be here through the holidays, “as long as Matthew needs help” they say.
They say through this experience there have been so many “Christmas Miracles”: Matthew is alive and suffered no brain damage, the nurses and doctor happened to be on the beach at the exact moment in time, and accommodations became unexpectedly available at the JW House when there was literally “no room at the Inn”.
Introduced to JW House through a social worker, Stan and Jayne say it has been a saving grace. Welcomed by the volunteers with a caring heart, they feel at home. Returning to the House each day, they enter a loving and nurturing environment that is so soothing “you’re welcomed as family,” Stan and Jayne say. “You can speak with other house guests that are going through similar situations and understand what you are facing.”
Matthew is a doctor of Emergency Medicine, having completed his residency in 2016 at Stanford. He completed some of his rotations at Kaiser Santa Clara over a 3 year period, as well as Santa Clara Valley Hospital, where he was ultimately transferred. He is also an artist. His room at the Rehabilitation Center has been transformed into a studio – Matthew plans to create a painting a week, for 52 weeks, to express his journey of recovery. He is inspiring all those around him, including other patients, with his determination and positive attitude, which is no surprise to his parents, who say he has always had a beautiful spirit and enjoyed a challenge.
Matthew has a long journey ahead of him, and he finds comfort knowing that his parents have the support of JW House. We will continue to share his progress, while this family spends their holiday season with us.
For more information on how you can help support JW House this holiday season, please visit jwhouseholiday.causevox.com