NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — How are you doing today? That was the simple question 10 On Your side posed to 17-year-old Donasia Lee on the morning of her discharge from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. Her answer revealed a snapshot of what her mother calls a miracle.
“Do you want the answer on a scale of one to 10? Well, I’m a nine.” That was Donasia’s response last week when 10 On Your Side reporter Regina Mobley was at the teen’s bedside, as her family closed the chapter on a seven-month-long ordeal that started on the morning of February 28.
Donasia, a member of the NJROTC unit at Booker T. Washington High School, was crossing Virginia Beach Boulevard at Park Avenue when she was struck by a vehicle. The driver never stopped and no witnesses have come forward to provide a description of the vehicle and the driver who nearly killed the high school junior.
Donasia, then 16 years old, was rushed to the Burn Trauma Unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where severe brain trauma left the child in a coma. The prognosis was poor.
“They told me basically to plan for her funeral. To pay for expected funeral expenses, the child’s family created a GoFundMe page that painfully described the injuries caused by a hit-and-run driver.
For seven months, 10 On Your Side has followed Donashia’s story who was given little hope of survival. For the first time, Donasia was able to share her story. But first, she offered a shout out to classmates at Booker T. Washington.
“Hello guys, I miss you guys in ROTC. I miss you Filana, and Barry and Ramirez,” Donasia said. Then in her words, Donasia recited what she has been told about the person who nearly took her life.
“I was just walking to school; I can’t believe that happened. It was a hit-and-run. I wish I knew who that person was because I don’t remember; I couldn’t talk; it was so sad,” said Donasia with her mother Christina by her side.
Slowly, over two months, Donasia woke up from a coma and was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
Nurse Practioner Jennifer Barboza is part of the rehabilitation team. “She was breathing through something called a trach[tracheostomy]; so she needed assistance with breathing and she was unable to do anything for herself,” Barboza said.
The brain injury treatment included medical care, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy that took place six days a week, over a period of five months.
Over a period of weeks, Registered Nurse Patrick Willis learned how to translate Donaisa’s requests.
“It took a while to kinda learn her new language and at the time, it was a lot of eye movement some fingers and some hands, kind of telling us what she wanted.”
Later, Patrick and Donasia bonded over music from Bruno Mars.
Speech Therapist Erin Douglass is also part of the therapy team. During Donasia’s last inpatient therapy session, Dougless put the 17-year-old through the paces with Bioness Integrated Therapy System.
“When she first started working on this computer system which is called the BITS, I had to do everything for her she did not have control of her hands.
Five months later, Donasia is getting good grades with the touch-activated system that focuses on visuomotor training for patients with traumatic brain injury.
“I got 80%,” said Donasia in commenting on her progress with BITS.
In a bedside interview, Donasia and her mother addressed some tough facts about the person who nearly killed Donasia. 10 On Your Side reminded them that Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi has announced because there are no witnesses, no video evidence and no physical evidence to identify the suspect vehicle, the case may remain unsolved.
The mother responded in agreement, saying it appears no one will answer for what was done to her daughter. Lee says she hasn’t heard from police investigators since March.
“I’ve never heard them call me; no one has asked me how my daughter is doing; nothing,” said Christina Lee.
Donasia then offered her assessment.
“I really don’t care; I’m alive and that’s the only thing I care about,” said Donasia with confidence.
10 On Your Side returned to the crime scene, where there were no crossing guards or surveillance cameras. Regina Mobley also exposed the dangerous route to school for students who live just outside downtown Norfolk and must walk to Booker T. Washington High School. The mother, Lee, tells 10 On Your Side she still has not heard from a single official from City Hall or elected officials since her daughter was nearly killed while on her way to school.
The pastor who christened a young Donasia, Rev. Geoffrey Guns of Second Calvary Baptist Church, brought the dangerous route to 10 On Your Side’s attention while Donasia was still in a coma. Months later, Donasia expressed gratitude to those who prayed for her recovery.
“Thank you, Pastor Guns and all the other people I don’t know. I am very thankful.”
After some long goodbyes on the rehabilitation floor, the teenager, who says she was supposed to die but lived for a reason, delivered a message to the medical staff, food service, housekeeping, and others who played a role in saving her life.
“Thank you; I’ll miss you; you did a good job,” said Donasia.