Young woman turns childhood injury from tractor accident into awareness campaign

For the last 14 years, Jesse Keaton has been called a “miracle girl.” But the name stems from a nightmare.At 6 years old, she fell off her dad’s tractor in Yadkin County, North Carolina, while they were mowing hay. In an interview with sister station WXII back in 2008, days after the accident, Keaton described the scary moments of trying to save herself as the blades were still going.”The big wheel pulled me back and it went on my whole body,” she said in the interview. “I got chopped in my hand a little bit, but I didn’t feel it.”She suffered injuries to her leg — which required amputation just above the knee — her ribs, a few fingers and her remaining foot, which still gives her issues now as a 20-year-old.Keaton said she’s met many other amputees since then and their injuries involved farm equipment more often than she expected. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident about every 3 days.”Here in Yadkin County, it’s very common to put children on tractors,” Keaton said. “There are families that say to me, ‘It happened to you but it won’t happen to me.’ But I think this is something they need to be educated on because it can happen to anyone. Nobody knew it was going to happen to me.”Not only does she advocate for tractor safety now, but Keaton also tries to give back to those going through trauma like she did. Since 2020, she’s organized blood drives on the anniversary of her accident — July 1.”It’s something that keeps my mind away from my accident,” Keaton said. “Keeps me in a good mood, because I’m helping give back to the community and those who are desperate for blood like I once was.”The drives also serve as a distraction for the “miracle girl,” who has struggled with her injuries and the permanent impact it has had on her life.”I feel like anybody who goes through a kind of traumatic experience, their date affects them, like a ‘sad date,'” she explained.As she reflects on the weeks after her injury, Keaton said she tries to focus on the medical team that helped her recover at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital. She says they’re owed a huge thank you for saving her life, even if it’s 14 years overdue. And she hopes to work alongside them someday, entering a pre-med track at Appalachian State University this fall.”I was between prosthetics and pre-med,” she said. “I fully decided pre-med because I thought it’d be really cool to work at the same place that helped me after my accident. I hope one day to make my life career there.”

For the last 14 years, Jesse Keaton has been called a “miracle girl.” But the name stems from a nightmare.

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At 6 years old, she fell off her dad’s tractor in Yadkin County, North Carolina, while they were mowing hay. In an interview with sister station WXII back in 2008, days after the accident, Keaton described the scary moments of trying to save herself as the blades were still going.

“The big wheel pulled me back and it went on my whole body,” she said in the interview. “I got chopped in my hand a little bit, but I didn’t feel it.”

She suffered injuries to her leg — which required amputation just above the knee — her ribs, a few fingers and her remaining foot, which still gives her issues now as a 20-year-old.

Keaton said she’s met many other amputees since then and their injuries involved farm equipment more often than she expected. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident about every 3 days.

“Here in Yadkin County, it’s very common to put children on tractors,” Keaton said. “There are families that say to me, ‘It happened to you but it won’t happen to me.’ But I think this is something they need to be educated on because it can happen to anyone. Nobody knew it was going to happen to me.”

Not only does she advocate for tractor safety now, but Keaton also tries to give back to those going through trauma like she did. Since 2020, she’s organized blood drives on the anniversary of her accident — July 1.

“It’s something that keeps my mind away from my accident,” Keaton said. “Keeps me in a good mood, because I’m helping give back to the community and those who are desperate for blood like I once was.”

The drives also serve as a distraction for the “miracle girl,” who has struggled with her injuries and the permanent impact it has had on her life.

“I feel like anybody who goes through a kind of traumatic experience, their date affects them, like a ‘sad date,'” she explained.

As she reflects on the weeks after her injury, Keaton said she tries to focus on the medical team that helped her recover at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital. She says they’re owed a huge thank you for saving her life, even if it’s 14 years overdue. And she hopes to work alongside them someday, entering a pre-med track at Appalachian State University this fall.

“I was between prosthetics and pre-med,” she said. “I fully decided pre-med because I thought it’d be really cool to work at the same place that helped me after my accident. I hope one day to make my life career there.”

Contributed by local news sources

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