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Family gives real thanks in a hospital

An intensive care unit is the last place any of us would wish to spend Thanksgiving Day.

Yet it was at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore., my sister, Maureen, her husband, Rob, and their family gave heartfelt thanks.

A week ago Friday, Brendan Haddon, their 19-year-old son, was seriously injured. He was a passenger in a one-car accident when a friend spun out in snowy conditions and hit a guard rail near Oregon’s scenic Mount Hood, where the Haddons have lived for nearly 30 years.

My nephew lost his left foot and almost lost the other.

Five surgeries in six days saved it.

The last procedure, hopefully, was Thanksgiving Day.

It has been an overwhelming week for that family.

The rest of us feel it as well.

A lot of supportive phone calls, emails and texts have been flying west for the past 10 days.

Prayers, too.

There’s a photo on my desk of Brendan as a boy huddled with my brothers and other nephews before the touch football game we played every July on the beach in Surf City, N.J.

Such happy times for our family.

What a stunning turn of events.

Two Fridays ago, most of us were gathered in South Jersey for the wedding of another nephew, Joe Mannix Jr.

Maureen’s second oldest son, Patrick, a sagacious young man, represented the Haddon clan.

Her oldest, Kevin, an Army Special Forces sergeant, had just been assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash., and couldn’t be with us.

Still, it was a joyous affair with 150 guests and the good vibe carried over for days.

Then this happened to Brendan.

It could’ve been worse.

Much worse.

But Patrick saved the day -- and his brother’s life.

An outdoors type who wanted to be a rock-climbing guide, Patrick had taken survival training courses.

It so happened he was home in Oregon between seasonal gigs bartending in Maui and Lake Tahoe.

How fortuitous.

Somehow the driver got the car to the Haddon house and 911 was called.

Before the ambulance could get there -- weather conditions prevented a medevac flight -- Patrick was able to stanch the flow of blood in Brendan’s critically damaged left leg.

Emergency personnel said that had it not been for Patrick’s quick thinking and performance under such awful circumstances, his brother might’ve bled to death.

I cannot imagine having to deal with something like that.

Watching their youngest child suffer has been difficult for my sister and her husband, but Brendan, like his big brothers, is made of the right stuff.

They’re already making preparations for the long road ahead.

Barring complications, Brendan faces extensive rehabilitation and they’ll have to remodel the house for him, too.

He’ll be in the hospital a while longer, though, and that’s fine with Maureen and her family.

Theirs was a meaningful Thanksgiving, indeed.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL. 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification purposes.