In April 2010, Stanford University honored Jessica Jones with the Stanford University J.E. Wallace Sterling Award for Scholastic Achievement, presented to the top students of each year’s graduating class. This is quite a feat for Jessica, considering that her life hung in the balance after a tragic head injury nearly eight years ago.
Then 14-year-old Jessica fell head first off a retaining wall onto a concrete slab and was immediately transported to Children’s in a coma. Her condition was deteriorating by the second, and she underwent an immediate emergency craniotomy performed by Andrew Reisner, M.D., one of our pediatric neurosurgeons. Dr. Reisner operated on her severe head injury, and was able to stop the bleeding on her brain. Following surgery, she was transported to the ICU in a stable, but critical condition.
The brain damage was considerable and little hope was held out for a full recovery. It was doubtful Jessica would ever walk or talk the same again.
After extensive rehabilitation, Jessica beat incredible odds and went home. She continued with outpatient therapies and slowly, but surely, regained her previous mental and physical abilities. She not only returned to a full scholastic load, but excelled enough to earn admittance to Stanford University. Her numerous caregivers at Children’s believe that Jessica’s undeniable spirit, will to live and strength not only kept her alive, but caused her to thrive and function at this exceptional level following a severe traumatic brain injury.
Jessica has infused this same spirit and strength into her academic career at Stanford University. She was named top student of the Class of 2010, and received the J.E. Wallace Sterling Award. As part of this award, she was allowed to identify a secondary school teacher who most influenced her high school career. Jessica asked that an exception be made, as Dr. Reisner was the most influential person in her high school years. She received special permission to select Dr. Reisner instead of a teacher, and he was by her side when she was presented with the J.E. Wallace Sterling Award.
“I do not have the words to describe how proud I am of Jessica,” said Dr. Reisner.
“I, along with a team comprising of dozens of physicians, nurses and therapists at Children’s who took care of Jessica, am thrilled with her successes," he said. "We are inspired by her character, drive and determination to overcome so admirably the enormous hurdles and challenges placed by severe brain injury. I know in my heart that this event not only marks the proud end to this chapter of her life, but the beginning of many other exciting endeavors in her future.”
Jessica is a graduate of Stanford University and in medical school at the Cleveland Clinic, following in the footsteps of her mentor, Dr. Reisner, the neurosurgeon who saved her life.