CHI St. Luke’s Health–Patients Medical Center Diagnoses “a Blessing in Disguise”

How a Drunk Driving Accident Paved a New Road for Tim Hernandez

Nearly two years ago, Tim Hernandez was hit by a drunk driver. A man driving a full-size Dodge truck ran a red light and collided into the driver’s side door of Tim’s classic, 1985 Ford-150, a truck Tim and his father had worked hard to restore. The impact spun the Ford three times and left Tim unconscious. When medical personnel arrived, the driver’s door had collapsed, leaving Tim with extensive swelling in his left leg. With the possibility of an outcome much worse, Tim felt extremely lucky. That is until his health regressed and his cardiovascular system declined over the next six months.

Doctors kept dismissing Tim's inability to breathe, constant cough, and overwhelming exhaustion as allergies. But Tim knew these were symptoms of something worse. Tim was coughing up blood and experiencing extreme chest pain. He immediately went to the emergency room at Patients Medical Center, where where doctors would diagnose him with a pulmonary embolism.

The swelling that had occurred the night of Tim’s accident had created a blood clot that traveled through Tim’s heart and lodged itself in his left lung. For a health-conscious runner and bicyclist, this was the last thing he thought would happen to him. Prior to his accident, Tim didn’t know what a pulmonary embolism was but proceeded to learn as much as he could from the hospital’s supportive staff and his physician, Dr. Maurice Haddad. “He made me feel like I was going to be okay,” says Tim. “And after doing everything he said, I got better.”

Over the past two years, Tim has completly shifted his mindset. Realizing how close he came to dying, he’s thankful to be alive. Tim credits the comfort and compassion he received at Patients Medical Center as the inspiration for him to give back to others now that he has a second chance at life. Not only did Tim’s “blessing in disguise” give him renewed perspective and gratitude for life, but he’s also physically ready to get back to his running and biking routine after being clot-free for a year and a half. “Though I can’t do everything from before, I’m healthy,” and for Tim, that’s more than he could ask.