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Gymnast is living on miracles

He survived crash, is healing well — but still needs help

OREM — Even as a 3-year-old, Jimmy Pratt loved gymnastics. The kid from Orem practiced, trained and competed wherever he could. He even took up coaching to share his passion.

But now, Pratt is fighting to regain use of his leg, after a near-fatal accident a month ago.

On Oct. 18, Pratt, 26, fell asleep at the wheel and coasted into a concrete barrier at the bottom of a hill in Orem. Police and medical crews had to extract him from his crumpled car, unsure if he would live, said his sister Becky Lawrence of Provo.

"Everything that has happened has been such a miracle," Lawrence said. "There have been so many miracles all the way through."

First, emergency crews didn't think he would live after the accident. Then, doctors predicted weeks in the intensive care unit; Pratt was out in one.

He started out at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center but last week was taken to LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City under the care of a specialized surgeon.

While in the ICU, Pratt was on a ventilator while doctors dealt with his damaged lungs and lacerated liver. Then, when he stabilized, the focus switched to his leg, which looked like — doctors said — it had been filleted.

All the skin, muscle and arteries were gone. It was just bone from knee to ankle, Lawrence said. But with recent grafts of skin and arteries, Pratt's family is optimistic about the future of his athletic leg.

"He was pretty well mashed from the neck down," Lawrence said. "Everything else has healed miraculously — his leg will, too."

As the 10th child and youngest boy in a family of 13 children, Pratt has had enormous support from family and friends hoping for a quick recovery.

While in the ICU, Pratt's family "moved in" to the waiting room, bringing a TV/VCR combo for young nieces and nephews, while they waited and supported their brother, uncle and son.

But he needs more than just well-wishes. The family is now dealing with the quickly mounting medical bills, as Pratt had just reached the age when he couldn't be covered under his mother's insurance and was still in the process of setting up his own.

The family has called and looked into every option, but right now, there is no insurance available. The family isn't sure of the total price tag, but it's close to half a million dollars and increasing every day.

"So far, prayer has helped to heal him," Lawrence said. "We're counting on prayer to help us pay for it."

Pratt's mother, Margie, said she is just dealing with the situation one day at a time, keeping a positive attitude.

Margie Pratt visits her son as often as she can in Salt Lake, traveling from her home in Orem. She's accustomed to sacrificing for her children. Like the time she cleaned the gym so then 9-year-old Jimmy Pratt could take gymnastics lesson — the family couldn't afford it any other way.

"He's done so well and he really likes it, so we've always tried to encourage it any way we can," she said. "If that means cleaning a gym, or whatever, it works."

And the family has no doubt that Pratt will be back to coaching in no time.

After all, that's what he's done for the past 11 years, the past four at All-American Gymnastics in Orem/Lindon. Pratt's anxious too. It's tough lying in bed day after day after day, he said.

But, he says, the biggest lesson he's learned is how to "fight through hard things."

And he's still fighting.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com