CHICAGO — Aspiring Sequim filmmaker Luke Silliman, 18, finds himself in a scene he never would have imagined for his first semester of college.
His mother, Jenna Rose, said Luke was sitting on a handrail at about 1 a.m. Oct. 14 on a bridge near his school, Columbia College Chicago, when he lost his balance and fell backward about 30 feet.
He broke his right thigh bone and hip, right rib, his pelvis in two places, his sacrum, his tailbone and the No. 5 lumbar in his lower back.
He’s being cared for at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he’s had two surgeries to place 12 screws, two rods and a titanium plate to fuse his back where the spine and pelvis broke.
Rose said Luke’s family considers it “miraculous” he didn’t suffer any head, neck or nerve injuries.
He started his freshman year in September, studying cinema arts and television. In Sequim, he most recently won the Sequim Education Foundation’s Student Film Festival with his friend, Emma Gallaher, for their film “Welcome to Life.”
Family members said Luke planned to work his way through college but won’t be able to for the foreseeable future, so they’ve started a GoFundMe page to support his medical costs and education needs such as a laptop, because he will be bedridden for up to six months.
The family set a $10,000 goal and had received $3,040 in support as of Wednesday.
Rose said they’ve recently learned that Luke’s insurance won’t cover his acute inpatient rehabilitation at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, where doctors recommend he go after his stay in the hospital.
“He can’t walk until he heals,” Rose said. “He is flat on his back in the hospital bed. He stands for a little bit each day but can’t put weight on his right leg for five weeks to let his right hip heal fully.
“He sits up for a few hours a day but has to be careful not to overdo it because his shattered lower back is healing, too.”
Rose said he’s had a strong support system by his side, including family and a group of friends from college.
Luke celebrated his 18th birthday in the hospital Wednesday.
His family encouraged friends to send cards and letters to the hospital. To send correspondence, write to Attn: Patient Luke Silliman, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Feinberg Pavilion, 251 E. Huron St., 12th Floor, Room 1259, Chicago, IL 60611.
For more information on Luke Silliman’s medical support page, visit www.gofundme.com/luke-silliman039s-recovery.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].