The life of Emmy Saenz: Part I

20- year- old learns new life as a quadriplegic

VICTORIA, Texas- Meet Emmy Saenz. Like other young adults her age, she loves to hang out with friends, curate her own style, and explore her independence. All of that took on a new meaning on October 1st, 2019. 

The Day Everything Changed

“I was actually on my way to work. So, I haven’t quite gotten to work just yet. I leave Victoria around six, six-thirty [a.m.] Or no, sooner than that because I’ve got to be at the gate by 6:30. So, I’d leave around six, and I was on my way to work, and the accident happened. So I wasn’t even at work yet,” said 20-year-old quadriplegic, Emmy Saenz. 

Saenz is one of many who commutes to the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort every day. Cruising down Highway 35 she approached Gate six where 200 more cars would enter and exit in the span of one hour for the beginning of a new shift. Just before arriving at the gate the unthinkable happens. 

 

Emmy Saenz car crash

Photo courtesy of Saenz family.

Saenz was caught in a four-vehicle pile-up that affected six people in total. Emmy’s car got sandwiched between two pick-up trucks traveling full speed.

 

When responders arrived at the scene they used the jaws of life to extract her from the vehicle and Emmy was life-flighted from the scene via PHI to Herman Memorial Hospital in Houston in critical condition. 

“I can’t really recall too much of the accident. I still have a lot of trouble remembering what happened, ” said Saenz. “But I do remember like a bang and then like another bang immediately after that. Like in and out kind of like, Whoa, what just happened?”

After she got to Herman Memorial hospital she underwent two life-saving surgeries. Then she received news that would change her life forever. 

A New Life

“It was after my second surgery when the surgeons came in and they were talking to my mom and they’re saying that I would probably not be able to walk again and paralyzed and I just remember breaking down in tears. Cause like of course it’s heartbreaking for anyone to go through,” said Saenz. 

“I believe that it may be my background in EMS prepared me to expect the worst and just deal with it in that moment,” said Rosemary Bazan, Emmy’s mom. “Although there were many times where I finally let the mom part of me just come out and break down and cry. This is my daughter, you know, I’m the one that’s supposed to protect her. Of course, no parent wants to see their child in this condition. It’s been very difficult as a mom to go through these motions with her day by day.”

Emmy Saenz in the hospital.

Photo courtesy of Saenz family.

After eight days in the hospital, Emmy was transferred to TIRR in Houston for a battery of rehab and physical therapy. 

“I don’t have a lot of motion of course, like with my hands, I can’t really move my fingers, but I can move my arms and shoulders and of course my neck pretty well. I have no movement in my legs so I can’t walk,” explains Saenz. 

Exactly one month after the accident Emmy was able to come home. I first got to meet Saenz in November 2019; Emmy and her family were still grappling with their new reality. 

“It’s been very difficult of course. I go through battles on how sad and dramatic it’s been. It’s definitely been life-changing for me.  Of course from being completely independent to having to depend on someone for helping me with everything,” said Saenz. 

Saenz goes on to explain that everything about her new reality was completely foreign to her. “I didn’t know the word quadriplegic before my accident. And now I’m like, Oh, this is what it means and this is the definition of it. So I guess it’s new and new I’m learning about this whole experience and injury. It’s definitely not the end of the road and that there is still hope.”

Due to Emmy’s need for round- the- clock care, her mom, Rosemary, decided to take time off of work under the Family Medical Leave Act and become Emmy’s full-time caregiver. Lest she leaves her 17-year career in EMS, Bazan hopes to get approved for a home care provider who can look after Saenz while her mom is on shift.

Rosemary helps Emmy with everything from eating, dressing, using the restroom, bathing and even sleeping. Saenz’s parents use a baby monitor to keep an eye on her while she rests. And Bazan will come and turn Emmy over throughout the night to ensure she doesn’t lay on one side for too long. 

 “These are emotions that we all have to deal with on a day to day basis. It’s not just a physical injury, it’s an emotional injury. And it affects every single person,” said Bazan. 

The Benefit 

On December 8th the community came together in a special way to help Saenz’s family put on a benefit for Emmy to raise funds for the many expenses that had suddenly befallen her family. 

A plethora of items were donated for the live and silent auctions. Live music filled the room as people enjoyed the BBQ plates served by volunteers. 

“People are coming and they’re really just supporting us. Supporting my granddaughter because she’s got medical bills to the point where the family can’t afford anymore. And so the community has come together, they’ve joined us, and they’re just really really supporting us. I can’t thank Victoria enough for coming to our rescue,” said Janie Alvarez, Emmy’s grandmother. 

Together with her husband Michael Bazan, Rosemary explained what the funds from the benefit will help them achieve, “As a family it’s going to be modifying the home to accommodate Emmy’s needs, also to make sure that we have some physical therapy and occupational therapy secured for her in the near future. And also to defray medical expenses.” 

Emmy and her little sisters.

Photo courtesy of Saenz family.

More than 2,500 tickets were sold for the benefit to friends and family and also members of the community who felt touched by Emmy’s story. 

We’ve been just overwhelmed with so much support, people reaching out in, support of Emmy and, and the, the continuous prayers that we’ve had, you know, people continue to say to us “We’re keeping you all in our prayers,” Bazan says with a smile. “It’s just so overwhelming that there’s just not enough words to say thank you to everybody that’s helped out.”

When Emmy made her entrance she was greeted by a standing ovation and roaring applause. The community really came together to show their support for Emmy and her family. 

Looking Forward

While the journey ahead promises to be long and challenging Emmy is still able to find the silver lining. 

“At the time of my accident I was actually going to start welding school that same day of my accident. So I was hoping in the future to become a welder by then, and carry on with life and have a good career. I would love to go to college and continue education and go one from there. And with jobs hopefully, in the future I can start working again,” said Saenz.   

Of course, like many women her age, she’s thinking about love and relationships. “I’m currently not dating. I think it would be very difficult to date. I’m paralyzed and I have a lot of emotions. I’m like, ‘Oh, who would want to be with me?’ Cause now I can’t walk. I can’t do the same things. But of course, I’m sure there’s still hope out there.”

Saenz described how uncomfortable it makes her when people stare at her wheelchair when she goes out. “I get nervous going on public cause I don’t want like all eyes on me kind of being in a wheelchair. It’s totally different from being able to walk.

To other quadriplegics going through the same struggle, Emmy sends a message of hope. “It’s definitely not the end of the road and there’s still hope. There are always people out there that are just like you, and that are willing to help you through the steps of going through all this.”

Watch Part 2 of ‘Emmy’s Life’ here where Newscenter 25’s Bria Woods had the opportunity to spend an entire day with Emmy observing how her daily routine has changed in light of the many modifications Saenz makes in her new life. 

Saenz and her family are still in need of funds for a new manual wheelchair that has a smart drive motor which costs approximately $10,000. Insurance won’t cover the cost of her wheelchair. The family also needs to repair their driveway because it has many cracks that makes it unsafe when trying to get Emmy in and out of the car using the Hoyer as it gets stuck in the cracks. To donate visit or call Prosperity Bank and make a deposit into the ‘Emmy Saenz Benefit’ account. Anything you can contribute will help Emmy and her family tremendously.

Prosperity Bank is located at 101 S. Main Street, and you can call them at 361-573-6321.

Special thanks to Emmy Saenz and her family for the contributed photos and footage in the video above and for inviting us into their home for an in-depth conversation about her story.

 

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