Richard Quiroga was with his family when they encountered road rage first hand. Richard’s father, Rick, who was driving, passed a slow-moving vehicle. The driver of the other car pulled alongside the Quirogas. When his sister saw a gun, Richard, 29, leaned forward to look. The driver fired, and the bullet went into the right side of Richard’s head, exited through his eyebrow, and hit Rick in the shoulder.
Stunned, Richard asked his family, “What just happened? Did I get shot?” The family pulled to the side of the road, and Richard’s sister called 911. Ambulances quickly arrived. At Ben Taub Hospital, Rick was treated and released. Richard was not as fortunate. By the time the rest of his family arrived, he was in surgery.
Doctors removed the shattered portion of his skull and repaired the orbital bone structure of his right eye. Almost three months later, in a second surgery, surgeons inserted a cranial prosthesis.Richard was in Ben Taub’s neuro intensive care unit for more than three weeks, sedated the first week. His medical team regulated his temperature, breathing and heart rate. When he began to wake, his first words were to ask if he was going to die. Instinctively, he called on his strength. “I knew the only way I would get better was to focus on myself.
“I’m really happy to have this behind me. I’m not sure what God has planned for me, but part of it is to encourage other people: Don’t give up hope. Be positive. Stay strong. Pray a lot.”
The family is expansive about Richard’s excellent care. Patty, his mom, offers “a special thank you to Mike [Segal, senior patient liaison]. He still calls to check on us. He touched us deeply and inspired us to stay strong. If it had not been for the doctors and nurses, I don’t think Richard would be with us today. You always hear on the news about the trauma center. We saw it from the inside.”
It may not be apparent when you meet Richard, but he’s always been an example of courage and perseverance. Born premature and with cerebral palsy, he spent 45 days in neonatal intensive care. His dad says, “We’re very lucky to have Ben Taub in Houston. We have the best trauma care in the country. Thanks to the people there, Richard is back to normal.”