By Ted Scouten

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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) — It’s the first time Ralph Delafe has seen the doctor who helped him on the worst night of his life.

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“You look good, that’s awesome,” said Dr. Seong Lee, the trauma surgeon on call at Memorial Regional Hospital the night Ralph was in a life-changing accident.

“August 9th I was in a roll over,” Ralph explained. “I sustained some head trauma but most of the injury was in my cervical vertebrae.”

Dr. Lee and Ralph are meeting up for a trauma awareness celebration, when doctors and medical staff reconnect with patients.

Ralph has come a long way since the crash. Initially, he was paralyzed.

“Mentally,” he said, “I was moving my hands but my hands weren’t responding.”

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With months of therapy, Ralph got back on his feet, which is critical for him — he’s a firefighter and paramedic in Miramar. Eventually, he regained much of his movement. Medically speaking, he’s a lucky guy.

“To have a spinal cord injury and have this kind of recovery afterwards,” Dr. Lee said, “he should consider himself very fortunate.”

Ralph’s girlfriend said she’s grateful to again see those who helped him recover.

“They were there to help him whenever,” said Carol Davaro, “it doesn’t matter what time of day or night, whether 2:00 in the morning, someone always came to help him out.”

Ralph’s happy to be moving again and said his personal experience will help him when he’s out saving lives.

“Just understanding what it’s like, what they’re going through, giving encouragement. You know, it might seem really bad now but stay positive, you’d be surprised where I was a year ago,” he said.

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After nine long months of rehabilitation Ralph was finally cleared to go back to work two weeks ago, on National Firefighter’s Day.

Ted Scouten