Foxboro accident victim's comeback amazes physicians

Dubbed a miracle by surgeons, Owen Gran today can share laughs -- a very different picture than a year ago, when he was fighting for his life after being struck in a rural hit-and-run accident.

Dubbed a miracle by surgeons, Owen Gran today can share laughs -- a very different picture than a year ago, when he was fighting for his life after being struck in a rural hit-and-run accident.

"He was really near death," said Dr. Jeff Davis, an orthopedic trauma surgeon with the Duluth Clinic, who was called in Oct. 8, 2006, to help stabilize Owen. "I never would have given him a chance in a million."

The hit-and-run driver, who was never identified, left Gran at the scene severely injured.

"His blood pressure was 50 over nothing," Davis said. "His belly was completely opened up. He was bleeding out underneath the clear back dressing."

His femur was destroyed, tailbone sectioned off, humerus fractured, head injured and a huge patch of skin torn from his back.


"It was all very ugly," Davis said.

Owen was extremely critical, said Dr. Mike McCann, a trauma critical care surgeon who also worked on the Foxboro man. But McCann held onto hope the 19-year-old would survive. "We never gave up on him," he said.

Their tenacity was rewarded.

Despite weeks in surgery, the months hospitalized and in rehabilitation at Miller-Dwan Medical Center and the constant pain, Owen remains upbeat.

"His limitations are like a minor bump he's going to work to get past," Rick said. "His attitude's been just incredible."

He has a penchant for making up stories if he can't remember events from the previous day.

"You have to have a sense of humor through the whole thing. You really do," Linda Gran said. "That's what gets us through the day -- and our belief in God."

For Owen, the most memorable part of the last year was coming home.


"Just being in my own bed -- it's awesome," he said. "In the morning, being able to come down and my mom and dad are there."

"Trail to recovery"

Owen and his father have been building a trail through the brush on their 20-acre property in Foxboro.

"Walking in the woods at home on uneven ground and dragging and carrying brush out and crawling up and down the four-wheeler and using his right hand to tie the chain and tie the ropes ... that's beautiful physical therapy," he said. "That's really what we're doing."

The head trauma he suffered affected Owen's short-term memory. While he remembers family and friends, he is still learning to connect names to therapists he meets weekly.

Owen's parents say he is making progress.

"The cues needed now are much more minimal," Rick said.

But, he said, they try to ask Owen only questions they know he can answer.


Linda and Owen's trip to Georgia to visit his sister this summer gave more grist to the humor mill.

"Yeah, it was funny," Owen said. At airport security, "First, they wand me. Beep, beep ... Then they pulled me off to the side. Finally a guy comes out ... wands me again."

The surgeries left Owen with hardware that triggers metal detectors -- a rod in his leg, three screws in his tailbone and a plate in his arm.

"He's got metal all over him," Davis said.

Owen will be the first to admit he gets frustrated at times. Things he used to do -- fishing, working on motors, driving -- pose problems.

"I may get upset," he said. "I used to do this; why can't I do it now?"

"But it's just momentary," Rick said.

Never a couch potato, Owen keeps active. But he is enjoying the home-cooked food a little too much.


"I'm on a diet," he said. "I have an instructor."

"A dietitian," his mother corrected.

"No, I was talking about you," her son said with a smile. " 'Owen, you can't eat that.' Yeah, it's helping a lot."

The entire family knows how far they have come.

"I've seen my X-rays initially," Owen said. "I didn't even know you could fix that."

Since that day a year ago, the Grans say, it has been like raising their son a second time at an accelerated pace.

"He had to relearn how to tie his shoes, brush his teeth, walk, talk ..." Linda said.

"I remember in therapy when his greatest goal was to pick up a Lego," Rick said. "Right now, he'll shake your hand with his right hand, and he's got a heck of a grip on him, so he's come a long way."


The family had much praise for the doctors and nurses who brought their child back to them.

"Best dang doctors, nurses, staff I've ever met in my life," Rick said.

The 19-year-old's youth, health and work ethic have contributed to his recovery.

"It's his youth," McCann said. "That saved him."

The doctors and nurses who saved Owen still think about him.

"That kid gave me an ulcer," McCann said. "I worried about him all the time." Today, the doctor said, Owen is a "poster child" for trauma recovery.

"Every time I see him, my goodness, it just makes you want to save everybody," Davis said.

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