Actress Lalia Susini’s young life nearly came to an end last year when a freak accident almost killed her. The 12-year old girl from Los Angeles was at home with her grandfather. He was pushing her on a porch swing at their family home when suddenly the bolt holding up the swing snapped off the porch ceiling, sending metal fragments speeding throw the air and smashing through Lalia’s skull.
“I thought I was going to die,” Lalia, who most recently starred in ABC’s “Station 19,” told CNN. “I just had no idea what happened.”
“It started as a cute, All-American moment, her grandfather was pushing her,” said her mother, Stacey Susini. “The next thing you know there’s blood everywhere and I thought I’m going to lose my daughter.”
Within a matter of moments, the Los Angeles Fire Department was on the scene. Lalia was unconscious and bleeding profusely as members of Firehouse 97 worked frantically to revive her. Luckily within a matter of minutes, Lalia was able to regain consciousness and was immediately placed into a waiting ambulance and rushed to Cedars Sinai hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, doctors quickly administered two blood transfusions in order to stabilize Lalia who had lost a massive amount of blood. Once stable, the young girl was wheeled into the OR for a life saving and delicate brain surgery. The outcome of of the procedure would not be known for weeks.
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Trauma surgeon Nicolas Melo, MD was one of the first physicians to care for Lalia. “When she arrived at the medical center, her skull was severely fractured, and her brain was exposed. It was a devastating injury, especially for a young child.”
According to Dr. Moise Danielpour, a neurosurgeon in Cedars’ pediatric department, “That projectile had traversed through her skull and into an area of the brain that is responsible for voluntary motor control.” He went on to add, “She was unable to move one side of her body with an open wound. Time was critical.”
Dr. Danielpour explained that doctors and nurses fought to save Lalia’s life, while preserving as much of Lalia’s damaged brain as possible. “The life of this beautiful child was in our hands and there was no room for error,” said Danielpour.
And for nearly 5 agonizing hours, doctors used every medical technique possible to save Lalia’s life. Miraculously, she survived. The only question that remained for doctors; Would this beautiful child regain her motor skills after the surgery, or would she be paralyzed for life?
It’s been more than a year since that horrific event, and Lalia has made a remarkable recovery. Her left arm is still paralyzed, but with extensive physical therapy, doctors believe that she will eventually regain the full use of her arm.
In spite of all the chaos, Lalia is back doing what all normal kids do her age; riding bicycles, playing soccer, running track and chasing after her three brothers in their Hollywood Hills home.
The accident has had a profound impact on her young life. Acting may no longer be her calling, since she now wants to follow in her doctor’s footsteps and someday become a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Before the accident, Laila had also designed clothes with her best friend. The accident has since inspired the talented, young entrepreneur to design clothing for sick and injured children.
The seventh-grade student said during her recovery that she realized there was no comfortable clothing which would accommodate for feeding tubes, lines or casts.
“We donate clothes to kids who have a cast on their arm, PICC lines, or feeding tubes going into their arms — anything where clothes need be modified,” said Lalia. The acronym PICC line stands for peripherally inserted central catheter, and it’s used for administering intravenous fluids.