MIAMI (CBS4) – Friday marked the 20-year-anniversary of the opening of Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The level one center has treated many of the most critical patients in the community.

Ryder’s reputation is second to none with many arguing that if you have life-threatening injuries Ryder Trauma Center is the place where you want to be.

Friday, some of the very patients Ryder has helped to save shared their stories of survival.

Reality TV star Alexia Echaverria came to Ryder when her teenage son Frankie was involved in a near-fatal car accident a year ago. The doctors had to perform emergency brain surgery to save him. Through tears Echaverria described the compassion of the nurses and the capability of the doctors who attended to her son.

“The whole team was just incredible and amazing….I have no words to express our gratitude,” Eschaverria said.

Despite the hospital’s well-known financial turmoil and layoffs, patients said some of the best and brightest surgeons, nurses, and medics work there.

From saving injured police officers shot in the line of duty, to nursing a teenager’s burned body back to health; the trauma center has handled it all.

“We can take comfort in knowing that every single person that comes to Ryder Trauma Center has the absolute best chance,” said Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya.

One of the things that makes Ryder Trauma Center unique is its helicopter landing pad. Air rescue helicopters have landed there tens of thousands of times, saving countless patients.

Champion gymnast Jorge Valdes was one of them. A double-flip with a twist left him partially paralyzed. After his time at Jackson and rehabilitative therapy, he can now walk again.

“These doctors are making that happen, they’re making medical breakthroughs that are incredible,” Valdes said.


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