Paul Rooney was removed from a car crash in a body bag. Emergency crews thought he was dead. Now more than 20 years later, he uses his story to inspire others.
It almost sounds like a casual event to hear Rooney describe the life changing accident.
"Back in July of 1989, I was catapulted out of a convertible," Rooney told us in a matter of fact manner.
What followed was a traumatic brain injury and coma. Plus a nightmare of tubes, a hole drilled in his head to relieve the swelling and the chance he wasn't going to make it. Even if he did, doctors thought he might never fully recover.
Miraculously, Rooney came out of it.
"All I remember doing is waking up and saying, 'What happened last night,' and they said, 'Mr. Rooney you've been here for 30 days,'" he remembered.
And he kept getting better. Rooney opted to get off the pain medication and experienced three days of unbelievable pain. Seven days later he went home. It took months to heal.
Today looking at Rooney, you wouldn't know what happened all those years ago aside from a few scars. His constant reminder of the accident is a severed nerve that causes ringing in his right ear.
"It rings all day and all night," Rooney said.
Rooney was broken by the shootings of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the others in Arizona. With his history, Rooney felt an instant bond. Now he wants to serve as an inspiration to the Congresswoman's family and others. He has a wish for full recovery, just as he experienced.
"Faith, hope and love are the three components to recovery," he said. "Never give up, continue praying, keep on praying and God comes through."
The accident altered the course of Rooney's life. The family man is now a certified crisis chaplain in Brazoria County, working to help those in need with his courageous story.
Rooney uses the photos of him in the hospital to inspire others. In fact, he was in the Texas Medical Center Friday night where Giffords is being treated, sharing his story to hopefully help others.
Do you have a story of survival from a traumatic brain injury? Email us.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times