Since he was 5 years old, Renard Davis dreamt of following in Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps and go to Morehouse College. However, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, while Renard was driving to church, another driver sped through a stop light and nearly ended Renard’s chance to realize that dream.
Three years later, as a junior at Morehouse, he still remembers how such a difficult time was made easier by the staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Everybody I came across made it feel like a family environment,” he said. “I didn’t feel like this was my nurse and this was my doctor. It felt like everyone was a cousin or a friend from the neighborhood. They made me and my family feel at home.”
Renard doesn’t remember much about his accident, but his mother, Rena, will never forget the fateful phone call she received, telling her that her oldest son had been critically injured in a car accident. Rena still tears up when she remembers calling friends, family and church members and asking them to pray for her son who had been taken to a downtown Atlanta hospital.
“The doctor looked at me and said Renard wasn’t going to make it,” Rena said, her voice cracking with emotion and tears streaming down her cheeks. “All I could do was just pray.”
When word spread that Renard, a popular senior at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta at the time, had been in an accident, the hospital’s Emergency Department quickly filled.
“There were probably about 300 people in the waiting room,” Rena remembered. “It was comforting to know we had so much support.”
Renard spent 14 days in intensive care, unconscious in a medically induced coma. Doctors eventually weaned him off the intense medications to prepare him for transfer to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Five days later, Renard arrived at Children’s, where he began inpatient therapy.
No stranger to Children’s, both Renard and his younger brother, Gregory, had been treated for asthma since they were children. His mother couldn’t have been more grateful to have her son in the welcoming environment.
Rena, who is diabetic, said that the nurses would check to make sure she was feeling well, too.
“They’d come in the morning and check on me,” she said. “They looked after our whole family and bent over backward for us.”
Renard was discharged in April and soon started day rehab. There he worked with therapists to increase his memory and to regain his speech.
He worked so hard during rehab that he was able to attend his high school graduation.
Renard received the Dell Scholarship, given to students who faced challenges to pursue academic goals, after graduation. The scholarship helped him fulfill his dream of enrolling at Morehouse.
Now a junior, Renard said he still has to pace himself and try not to take on too much since the accident. But that hasn’t stopped him from taking on one extracurricular activity. He joined Morehouse’s prestigious glee club after seeing a concert on campus during his freshman year.
A lot of time has passed since the two weeks he spent in a coma, and Renard has progressed with each day.
“It took some time to get adjusted,” he said. “It is a reality. I’m here.”