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Jared's Story

After a stray bullet injured a police officer's spine, he was determined to recover quickly and walk again.

“Officer down!” That’s what 46-year old Jared MacDonald called into his police radio at 3:00 am on a frosty February night. On route to rescue a murder victim on Cape Cod, Officer MacDonald was rushing past a car set on fire by the suspect when a bullet skimmed his spine. Toppled, he lay on the snow directing the other officers. Minutes later, the suspect was apprehended and Jared was air lifted to safety for emergency treatment.

At first, Jared lay in his hospital bed at Spaulding, nerve pain flaring in his right foot and leg. The touch of a sheet was unbearable. Spaulding’s nursing staff provided constant care for his wounds and the shock of trauma. The next day, when Jared met Trina Modoono, his physical therapist, he told her he wanted to walk as soon as possible. “Not until you can put a shoe on your foot,” Trina said. “That’s the first step.”

Two nights later, he lay awake in bed, easing the sheet over his foot, testing how much pain he could bear. Just three days after that, he put on his shoe. “From that day on,” Jared says, “Spaulding’s amazing team led me onto the path of recovery.”

“Spaulding’s doctors and nurses were phenomenal,” Jared says. “Every possible thing that could have been done to take care of me was in place before I even knew it.” Jared recalls how, during this frightening time, his confidence in Spaulding’s team made all the difference. “Their dedication, knowledge, and round-the-clock sense of responsibility freed me to focus all my energy on walking again.”

When Jared was told it could take 6-8 months to make significant strides, he knew he wanted to beat that timeline. “The slow route just wasn’t the one I was willing to choose,” he says. “Trina understood that,” he says. “Every day, she was by my side with a big smile, challenging me and pushing me forward.”

A month after his arrival at Spaulding, Jared was walking again and preparing for a very happy return home.

“I’ll never forget the first steps I took. Trina was there, telling me I was ready.” He describes that moment as a triumph for his entire medical team. “Their fantastic support enabled me to prove I could do it.” After that miracle, Jared says everything seemed possible. He was ready to become an outpatient at Spaulding’s Cape Cod facility, and had no doubt that he would continue to take new strides forward there.

“Today, more than ever, there’s a growing need for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital,” Jared says, and then he chuckles, “The truth is we could use a few more Spauldings!” 

Jared describes his experience as a ‘wake-up.’ He’s grateful to be working again, and no longer takes the simple pleasures for granted. “One of my favorite things to do each year, is go apple picking with my family. This year, I took it a little slower and enjoyed it even more.”

Spaulding-Harvard SCI Model System
Spinal Cord Injury Model System

Learn more about the Spaulding-Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model System here.

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