It was supposed to be a celebratory day. Sadie Soileau, just 9 years old, was riding home from her sister’s graduation at McNeese State University in Lake Charles in 2021. The family lived about an hour and a half away in the small town of Ville Platte.
On the car ride home, Sadie and her siblings were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. The other passengers walked away with minor cuts and bruises as well as one broken arm.
But Sadie, who had sustained major injuries including broken bones in both arms and a severely broken leg, had to be airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.
Her father, Nasen Soileau, remembers worrying that his daughter wouldn’t make it because of the severity of her injuries. While he stayed at the scene of the accident to take care of his other children, Sadie’s mother, Jill, rushed to Baton Rouge.
A Children’s Hospital representative met Jill at the entrance and stayed with her while Sadie was in the ICU and until more family arrived. “It just felt like first class,” Nasen remembers.
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is home to the region’s only Level II pediatric trauma program, making it the most equipped hospital in the region to care for Sadie’s injuries.
At first, her trauma care team suspected they would have to amputate Sadie’s right leg at mid-calf. But despite the severe break and damage, there was no damage to the nerves or blood vessels. That meant Sadie’s care team was able to save her leg.
Sadie was in ICU for seven days and continued inpatient treatment and recovery for another 14 days.
After that came a total of 18 surgeries over the next two years to get Sadie to where she is today — a happy and healthy 11-year-old living a relatively normal life and playing softball and basketball for Sacred Heart School in Ville Platte.
She has a slight limp in her leg due to damage to the Achilles tendon but is continuing to improve. With only a few more surgeries remaining, she is close to the end of her treatment and recovery.
All of Sadie’s treatments have taken place at the Children’s Hospital and facilities within the Our Lady of the Lake network.
For the Soileau family, even though it’s a two-hour drive from their home, there was no question where they would continue Sadie’s care. In fact, in the first couple of months after the accident, the Soileau family fully relocated to Baton Rouge to be near Sadie’s doctors.
“It just felt like home, like that was where we were supposed to be,” Nasen says.
He credits the doctors, including John Faust, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and the care team at the Children’s Hospital for giving Sadie such compassionate care and attention as well as guiding Nasen and Jill through such a tough and complex healthcare journey.
Sadie became a familiar face at the Children’s Hospital and befriended many of the team members along the way. During her most recent surgery in July, she gifted her care team with a poster of photos she had taken with the hospital staff as a way to say thanks.
Nasen says Children’s Hospital team members who meet Sadie for the first time will remark that they’ve heard of her and her story.
“She’s kind of like a celebrity there now,” Nasen says.
Sadie has been honored as one of Our Lady of the Lake’s Geaux Heroes, which recognizes patients with incredible stories of strength and resilience. She is being recognized on the field of Tiger Stadium during the LSU football game on September 9.