Kid Captain: Indya Sorrell

Nov. 18, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jill and Cliff Sorrell’s kids, Indya, 11, and Cody, 12, have a healthy brother-sister relationship. There’s quarreling and competitiveness but also affection and camaraderie. Seeing them together, it’s easy to tell they’re there for each other.

Cody was there that day in May 2010 when a go-kart accident happened on the family’s farm near Fulton, Ill. Indya was looking back over her shoulder as she zoomed away from her brother and dad. Seconds later, she rammed into the back of a farm trailer.

Cody ran to the house of a neighbor — a paramedic — who raced to the scene and helped stabilize Indya until rescue crews arrived. She was taken to the emergency room in nearby Clinton, Iowa, and transported by helicopter to University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

“I prayed the whole time that she would make it to Iowa City,” says Jill, who rode with her daughter.

Indya sustained multiple severe injuries: internal bleeding, broken ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated liver, and damage to her gallbladder. UI pediatric surgeons immediately went to work to control the bleeding and repair Indya’s liver and other damaged organs. It was a delicate set of procedures over several hours, but the operation was successful.

Indya spent the following month in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), including three weeks in a medically induced coma to aid the healing process. Cliff and Jill were there every day, sometimes taking shifts around the clock so one parent would always be at her bedside. They conferred with the surgeons and other specialists, sat in during morning rounds, and watched as nurses continually monitored her progress.

“If there was any question, day or night, we could call UI Children’s Hospital and they would talk us through it.”
Cliff Sorrell

Indya’s condition steadily improved. Cliff and Jill credit the nurses, music therapists, and Child Life specialists with lifting the family’s spirits. Cody, along with relatives, friends, and members of the family’s church, paid regular visits, providing an additional boost.

After the PICU, Indya was transferred to the Pediatric Inpatient Unit; by mid-June, she was able to go home. She still had a feeding tube for the first several weeks and faced additional surgical procedures over the following months, but the family felt reassured that life was slowly returning to normal.

“If there was any question, day or night, we could call UI Children’s Hospital and they would talk us through it,” Cliff says.

Indya has grown up a lot since the accident, but she’s making great progress and back to doing what she enjoys: taking care of the family pets, spending time with friends, and being there for brother Cody, who says, “I learned that she’s pretty tough.”

Adds Indya, “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, you have to stand strong.”

And her recovery has sparked Indya’s interest in helping other kids, too.

“I want to be a music therapist or a Child Life person… you get to help a lot of children and see them happy again,” she says.

“She’s got her zip back, and I like that,” her mom says. You can watch Indya’s story HERE.