Noah Cooper surprised the medical staff at Sharp Memorial Hospital twice on Thursday morning.
In recognition of Trauma Survivors Day Wednesday, Cooper surprised the staff by showing up during a review of his case. He rolled into the room in a wheelchair to a round of applause.
Six months ago, Cooper was paralyzed from the waist down during a bad car accident in San Diego.
“For me, when I see a patient like this in the trauma bay, especially somebody so young, my heart sinks immediately,” said trauma surgeon Amelia Simpson.
“We have to help him,” recalled neurosurgeon Sassan Keshavarzi. “We have to do everything by the book. Even if we don’t get any function back, I want to know we’re doing everything we can.”
The Sharp staff saw proof of their work on Thursday when the 24-year-old Cooper surprised them by standing up out of his wheelchair and walking over to hug Keshavarzi.
The room echoed with applause.
“Blew my mind,” said a smiling Keshavarzi.
“I’m back, dude!” exclaimed Cooper. “I never thought I’d be able to do it again.”
“To have such an amazing recovery and such a wonderful patient experience is really a win that all of us needed,” said Simpson.
After Cooper was treated at Sharp Memorial, he moved back home with his parents in Georgia to continue his rehabilitation. He said he plans to move back to San Diego.
“The biggest weight lifted off your shoulders you could possibly imagine,” Cooper said when he regained his composure after initially being overcome with emotion.
“It was beautiful," Keshavarzi said. "It touches everybody the same way."
“These people have a passion for this," Cooper said. "They really do, and you can really see it. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Sharp Memorial invited Cooper to join their Trauma Survivor Network to help inspire and give other patients like him hope.