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Montana 11-year-old thanks hospital for care following her head injury

Rylee after Surgery
Posted at 12:00 PM, Mar 15, 2024

BILLINGS — Billings 11-year-old Rylee Jansen got her chance to thank St. Vincent's Healthcare for the care she received after she was hit by a vehicle on Rimrock Road five months ago and fractured her skull.

Rylee underwent surgery the night it happened and has since made a full recovery.

While she is doing well, it's a day she and her family won't soon forget.

"I heard a honk, so I jumped," Rylee recalled Wednesday afternoon. "I actually tumbled and hit my head."

It all started when Rylee was crossing the street with some friends during what she called 'golden hour,' which is also known as the brightest time of day. Before she knew it, she had been struck by a vehicle and launched head-first into the concrete.

"I don't really know. I don't really remember most of it," Rylee said.

She's hazy on the details immediately following the accident, but Rylee was quickly rushed to St. Vincent's, where she underwent head surgery.

"They ended up having to shave a little bit of my head," Rylee said.

Rylee and her mom Tricia

That surgery brought on anxious nerves for both her and her parents. Rylee's dad, Matt Jansen, said the thought of losing a large chunk of her hair mortified the sixth grader.

"You know, we knew the procedure was going to go well once we got here," Matt said. "So then it was more of like putting ourselves in our daughter's shows. To lose your hair at that age, as a girl, is tough."

But fortunately, that wasn't the case for Rylee, thanks to a special St. V's nurse.

"She wrapped my hair in braids to make sure they didn't have to shave hair that didn't need to be shaved," Rylee said with a smile.

Rylee's mom Tricia Jansen said it was gestures like that that meant so much to her daughter. The hospital also gifted Rylee a stuffed ostrich and one nurse wrapped her stuffed llama's head to make it look like she had head surgery too.

Rylee's Llama after Surgery

"(That nurse) definitely helped her that day a lot and me too," Tricia said with tears in her eyes. "When Rylee came out of surgery, she gave me the biggest hug and she was like, 'She did great. She's fine.'"

Tricia added that throughout their hospital experience, they felt loved and cared for from the start.

"There were so many people in her circle that loved her and they didn't even know her," Tricia said.

Rylee has since returned to her favorite activity of dancing but wanted to make sure the hospital understood how grateful she was. So, without her parents' knowledge, she wrote a letter thanking them for the care and asking if she could volunteer there.

"I would love to volunteer and help out the hospital, but unfortunately, I don't hit the age mark to volunteer," Rylee's letter read.

While she might not meet the age requirements yet, it's safe to say that Rylee's experience has helped her form some big career plans.

"What they did to me, I want to do it to other people because I know what it felt like," Rylee said. "So, I want to do it to other people and help them."