Taariq Jensen was enjoying a bike ride with a friend on a hot summer day in 2015 when he was intentionally struck by a reckless hit-and-run driver traveling at an estimated 40 to 50 miles per hour.
The then 17-year-old slammed into the car’s windshield and was violently thrown onto the side of the road as the driver sped on. Soon after, he was taken by helicopter to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center.
“Taariq arrived at our trauma center showing signs that his brain was under a tremendous amount of pressure, and if we didn’t act urgently it would be imminently life threatening,” recalled Amit Banerjee, MD, chief of Neurosurgery. “Often in trauma, time is of the essence.”
Within just 40 minutes of arriving at the hospital, Taariq was undergoing surgery to relieve the mounting pressure on his brain.
“All that can be coordinated because a lot of us are on the same page about how these patients need to be treated,” said Dr. Banerjee.
Two weeks later, on his mother’s birthday, Taariq awoke from a coma in the intensive care unit. He was later transferred to the Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, California, where he continued his often painful journey to recovery, and finally cared for at home by members of Kaiser Permanente’s Home Health team.
Today, at age 18, he’s back to living a full life, hanging out with friends, working at an ice cream shop, and attending Sacramento City College.
“Taariq is a good example of what can happen when a whole team is committed to delivering an excellent outcome,” said Dr. Banerjee.
It’s that and more, according to his parents.
“It’s a definite miracle,” said Shikha Jensen, Taariq’s mom, who works as a Kaiser Permanente Home Health nurse in South Sacramento.
“The doctors, the nurses, all the support people put him in a place where he could fight it so that he could achieve what he wanted to achieve,” said Taariq’s dad, Terry Jensen.
Taariq, his parents, and more than a dozen members of his care team were recognized in front of thousands of cheering basketball fans during a special time out at a Sacramento Kings game at Golden 1 Center last week. It was the latest in a series of caregiver games, where grateful patients are reunited with Kaiser Permanente physicians, nurses, and other care team members as part of Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with the Kings.
For Taariq, the high-profile celebration was one more thing to cherish.
“I’m just going to be like this rockin’ dude who survived this near-fatal crash and be proud of it and not take everything for granted and be thankful for the small things in life,” he said.