Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

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Fertility 101
Aug. 18

Informational Meeting About Guatemala Medical Mission
Aug. 20

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Sept. 8

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Wrestler, Cedars-Sinai Help Save Injured Woman

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Barb Sachs (left) and Keta Meggett

One in an occasional series of stories highlighting the #CedarsGratitude effort. Share why you are grateful for Cedars-Sinai here.

On July 15, 2016, Barb Sachs decided to pick up lunch by walking nine blocks from her apartment to a grocery store in the San Fernando Valley.

The day was extremely hot, but she doesn't remember what occurred next.

"It's a brilliant thing what trauma does, because I have no memory of what happened," said Sachs, 56. "I don't even remember what I wore."

From information she's gathered from police reports, eyewitnesses and her doctor, Sachs now knows the details: On that day, at about 11:15 a.m., as she crossed the street at Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Riverside Drive in Valley Village, a car turned left and hit her, flipping her onto the car's hood. Her head smashed against the windshield, and she then fell to the ground, covered in shards of glass.

While bystanders panicked, a quick-thinking witness to the incident sprang into action, applying ice packs, calling 911 and picking glass out of Sachs' hair. Paramedics arrived and recognized that Sachs needed a Level 1 trauma center, so they took her to Cedars-Sinai.

Sachs had a traumatic brain injury. She would end up having two emergency brain surgeries and spending 20 days in the hospital, including two weeks in a coma. Her rescue, she now says, was a story of real-life heroes: her surgeon, her care team and one person in particular — Keta Meggett.

A Hero on the Scene

Meggett isn't just a real-life hero — she also plays one on TV: She's Keta Rush, Women of Wrestling's Bully Buster, billed as using brains and brawn to battle bullies in and out of the ring.

Meggett's story isn't entirely fiction. After being beaten up by a group of girls when she was a high school freshman, she spent a week in the hospital, then months in physical therapy. She would later start a nonprofit to teach children confidence, leadership and self-defense.

At the moment when Sachs was struck, Meggett, 38, was sitting behind the wheel of her white SUV. She happened to have six ice packs strapped to her body, because she was in physical therapy after having been in a car crash herself months earlier.

Immediately after Sachs was struck, Meggett recalled, everyone at the scene seemed to be still for a few seconds. No one was helping the woman lying in the crosswalk.

"It was like a terrifying version of the Mannequin Challenge," Meggett said. "Everyone was just staring and screaming, but nobody did anything. No one was next to Barb. It was the weirdest thing."

Meggett noted that Sachs was in shorts and that the pavement was scorching in the 105-degree heat. She grabbed a hoodie that was in her car, got out and dashed toward the injured woman.

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Sachs and Meggett have stayed in touch after Sachs was hit by a car in July 2016.

Meggett shaded Sachs while pulling the ice packs from her own body to place on Sachs' head, legs and chest to keep swelling down. She called 911, picking glass shards out of Sachs' curly hair while checking her pulse and saying to her, "If you can hear me, stay with me, please."

Paramedics pulled up in an ambulance and took over. Meggett gathered up Sachs' Scrunchie, credit cards, wallet, keys and earbuds off the ground and handed them to a paramedic. She noticed Sachs' striking aqua-colored eyes when a paramedic lifted an eyelid to check her pupil.


Sachs had lived in Los Angeles only three months before she was injured. She moved from Minnesota to be near her son, Jake. She has a rare blood disease called polycythemia vera, a slow-growing cancer that causes the bone marrow to make too many red blood cells. The condition can thicken the blood and cause clots.

Soon after arriving in L.A., Sachs visited a couple of hematologists, including one at Cedars-Sinai, looking for someone to help manage her treatment. That visit with a Cedars-Sinai doctor would help save her life. Staff in the emergency room checked her electronic medical record and were alerted that she had the disease.

The information prompted Michael Alexander, MD, director of the Neurovascular Center and Endovascular Neurology, to give Sachs an infusion of platelets at the time of her emergency surgery.

After nearly three weeks in the hospital, Sachs was released to a rehabilitation program and told to brace for an 18-month recovery in a facility with round-the-clock care.

Sachs has been involved in cognitive therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. She also has been exercising and taking walks on her own — never with her cellphone in hand or anything that could distract her. She started with 15-minute walks a couple of times a day, then worked up to two miles. And on Alexander's advice, she's now reading more to exercise her brain.

"I encourage people recovering from brain injuries to do things that challenge or work their brain, such as reading or puzzles," Alexander said. "For a muscle to recover after injury, it requires progressive therapy to improve strength and endurance. I believe the brain is the same. If you don't use it, you lose it."


About three months after the rescue, Meggett and Sachs were able to meet again. Meggett tracked down Sachs on Facebook.

"I couldn't stop hugging her and I couldn't stop crying," Meggett said.

The two live close to each other in Valley Village. Since the reunion, they've become friends. They often lunch together and text each other.

"She will be in my life for the rest of my life," Sachs said.

It was lucky, Alexander said, that Meggett had ice and put it on Sachs' head at the scene of the incident.

"There's some preliminary information that low temperature can protect the brain," Alexander said. "It's difficult to say whether this had an impact on Barb, but it was very insightful on the part of Keta."

Sachs is grateful that she ended up at Cedars-Sinai, even though other hospitals were closer to the scene where she was struck. She has returned to the intensive care unit to visit the nurses and others who took care of her.

She hopes to see them again, and to become a volunteer herself.

"From the people who work at the desks on every floor in the towers, to the doctors and nurses, the valet people on the ramps and the staff on the patient floors — the kindness of everyone is amazing," she said. "I've never experienced anything else like it in my life."

In July 2010, Cedars-Sinai launched The Campaign for Cedars-Sinai — the organization's most ambitious fundraising effort to date with a goal of raising $600 million by June 2018 to help build and advance its research, academic and patient-care programs. The Gratitude effort aims to bolster contributions in the campaign's final months by highlighting stories of gratitude from patients, families, donors and employees.

Help us spread the word! Use #CedarsGratitude and share why you are grateful for Cedars-Sinai. About 75 percent of Cedars-Sinai's donors are grateful patients. Showing your support for Cedars-Sinai through social networks is a powerful way to spread the word about Cedars-Sinai's mission to provide excellent patient care and discover lifesaving treatments.

To learn more about The Campaign for Cedars-Sinai and how you can help, visit giving.cedars-sinai.edu.

To learn more about the Gratitude effort or to share your story, visit the #CedarsGratitude giving page.