On 16 June 2022 our 19-year-old daughter Amelia (Mia) Dean was attacked by a Bison while hiking in Custer State Park in South Dakota and we are fundraising so that she can receive the best treatment possible for her injury.
Mia, a friend and his wolf-dog, whilst only on the second day of a month long road trip across the USA, were walking on a trail in Custer State Park, coming to the end of their walk, they climbed a hill and came across a large, male bison in the middle of their path. The bison appeared unconcerned, happy to graze and ignore them, so, after much discussion, they decided to skirt around the bison, aiming not to disturb him. After returning to the path, about 100 yards from the bison, he stopped eating and looked up, examining Mia’s friend, and his dog (who was on a harness) and Mia, before suddenly charging at her. Mia was shocked into stillness, the bison halting directly in front of her. The two staring at each other for a few seconds before the bison surged forwards, gorging her in the left thigh with his horn, and throwing her head over heels about 10-15 feet in the air. When she hit the ground Mia was trapped, unable to move her bleeding leg, with the bison huffing directly over her, his feet by her head for some time, and continued to stand near her for some time before Mia’s friend managed to lead him away.
Mia sustained a completely severed femoral artery from the incident and severe damage to both her tibial and peroneal nerves (part of the sciatic nerve). We are beyond fortunate that our daughter is still breathing, as she should have bled out in 2-8 minutes after the severed artery and the ambulance didn’t arrive for 20 minutes. It is a miracle that she is alive today. We believe that God put a veil of protection over Mia.
The staff at Rapid City Hospital have been like a second family and have done everything they can at this point, saving both Mia’s life and leg, performing a bypass of the femoral artery. However, as the artery and muscle damage is healing, Mia is still suffering from severe nerve pain, numbness and hypersensitivity, paralysis and limited mobility below the knee, being unable to walk without walking aids, and managing only about 20 yards. Mia will need a least one operation to have a chance at regaining full motion, and Rapid City Hospital, despite their amazing work on Mia’s injury does not have the expertise nor equipment to properly examine and treat the nerve injury. At this point the full extent of the damage has not even been examined, but EMG and MRI investigations have indicated that this is a highly complex injury, the tibial nerve has been fully severed, the peroneal has been trisected (split down the middle), as well as both being partially shredded and crushed. No treating doctors feel comfortable indicating that Mia is safe to fly, and the peripheral nerve specialist from Mayo Clinic states that he cannot make any real assessments until he has personally seen her.
Mia is English and whilst her travel insurance has paid so far for the femoral artery bypass they are refusing to pay for even the initial examination by the specialist of her nerve injury. Mayo clinic, a world-class hospital in the peripheral nerve field (a very niche field), has accepted Mia as a referral from Rapid City Hospital. Mia’s injury is complicated in the first place, including both the vascular and nerve injury, but the nerve damage itself is also complex and extensive. This could be Mia’s best chance to regain control of her foot, and time is running out. The initial tests alone cost around $8,000, not including transport, accommodation and other expenses, the later flights home, or any possible surgeries needed. We are therefore asking to raise money to allow Mia to receive at least the initial testing and possible surgery at Mayo clinic.
Mia setting off on her travels
Before the accident Mia had been accepted to Edinburgh university, she was going to start in September 2022 having decided to take a year out to work, explore and travel. She is a bright and active young woman, our youngest child and only girl, who is only just beginning her adult life. She has been incredibly strong throughout this whole process, coming close to death, continuing to suffer now and yet still remaining positive. Since she was little she has had a passion for dance, and we can still remember her joy on getting her first pointe shoes and our inability to get her to take them off. As well as having a sense of adventure, love for life and people, she worked for half the year to save the money to go backpacking.
Mia about to perform in Phantom of the Opera (Middle row left)
We would be forever grateful to anyone who donates, no matter the amount, anything that you can give to help our daughter is appreciated. The people of South Dakota and especially Rapid City, as we are away from family and friends, have been beyond wonderful and a blessing to us and we have nothing but praise for all the staff of Rapid City Hospital. We hope that their kindness and generosity will be extended to everyone else as we humbly ask for help. Amelia, when asked if this experience had put her off coming to the USA, said that she would love to visit the USA again as everyone is so kind. If you wish to know more KOTA TV have run a story on her.
We have no idea why this happened to our little girl, and simply wish for her to be able to walk and dance again and live her life to the full, without chronic long-term pain.
Jesus, our companion,
when we are driven to despair,
help us, through the friends and strangers
we encounter on our path,
to know you as our refuge,
our way, our truth and our life.