EL CAMPO, Texas — A week before Thanksgiving, the Macek family had no idea how grateful they would all be to just be home.
Their 1-year-old son Ripp survived a freak accident, being run over by a tractor on their family farm in El Campo, Texas. His parents say it's nothing short of a miracle he survived.
You’d never know by his smile full of teeth what this little guy has been through.
“Pretty much everyone said God had his hand over his head," said Kendall Macek, his mother.
She says they were all sitting out on their back patio, grilling fajitas. It was Saturday, September 24. One minute, Ripp was playing.
“He disconnected my phone, so I was trying to reconnect it," she said.
The next, the unthinkable happened.
“Our other son was running with him in his hands saying, I ran him over," said Chase Macek, his father.
Ripp had been run over by the family tractor one of his brothers was driving.
“I’ll never forget that cry," said his mom.
The parents rushed Ripp to a hospital in El Campo. Then, Memorial Hermann transported Ripp to its Pediatric ICU in the Texas Medical Center by Life Flight.
“I feel like a piece of me was on that table," said Kendall.
Ripp is the youngest of four boys.
“He’s such a fighter," said his dad.
A trait he needed now more than ever. Ripp had six skull fractures and needed two blood transfusions.
“In my mind, I knew he was coming home," said Chase.
After two weeks in the hospital, Emily Klein met Ripp when he started physical therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
“The first time I met Ripp was a whirlwind, he was such a fun-loving kiddo," said Klein, a physical therapist at TIRR. “After Ripp’s accident, he also had a brain injury on top of that, so that can also contribute to increased impulsivity and decreased awareness of your body and space.”
Not only did he have to learn to crawl and walk again, but he also had to relearn the basics, like how to eat.
“Working with families in a very traumatic time in their lives is very rewarding to us as clinicians," said Sabrina Filoteo, a speech-language pathologist who worked with him. "I think it’s a blessing that we have an opportunity to have a program and a facility available for cases such as Ripp’s."
Back at home, Ripp isn’t letting his brace slow him down.
“We relearned with him, but at the same time, his personality never changed,” said Kendall.
His parents built him a new safer bed, Ripp’s own fortress. He will still have to overcome some hurdles, but it’s nothing they say he can’t handle.
“God has something big in store for him, I think he’s going to be a doctor," said Chase.
A job he already tried out for Halloween, a holiday they celebrated at TIRR.
This Thanksgiving, the family is all the more grateful to be back on the farm.