A MUM has issued an urgent car seat warning after her infant son was left fighting for his life after sustaining a fractured skull in a horrific car crash.
Zoe ten Broek and her 10-month-old boy Jaxon were involved in a horror car accident that also left him with a bleed on his brain and torn neck ligaments.
Despite his injuries, Zoe said the youngster wouldn’t have survived had he not been strapped into the car facing the rear of the vehicle.
Zoe, from Melbourne, Australia, said she’s been placing baby Jax in backwards ever since he was born and shared her safety advice with The Sun Online.
Recounting what happened on that fateful day two years ago, the mum-of-one said: “I put Jax in his seat, did a pinch test on his straps, and then started to make my way to my parents’ house just like I have done so many times in the past. Though this time we never made it there.
“Instead, the next thing I remember was men putting me in an ambulance and telling me that I had been in an accident.
Zoe was rushed to a hospital with a broken collar bone and minor concussion while her son was airlifted an hour away to the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The next 24 hours while Zoe was receiving treatment were an agonising blur.
“I was very sad I wasn’t going to be with Jax and that he was going to be alone,” she told us.
“My parents went with him but I couldn’t. I was wondering what kind of a state he was in because emergency crews weren’t telling me anything. It was that bad.
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“I had thoughts running through my head like how bad is it? Am I going to lose him?”
Zoe was eventually discharged and rushed to her son’s hospital bedside where the sight of him hooked up to life support left her “terrified”.
“Nothing could have prepared me for seeing my little man in that massive bed with so many tubes and wires everywhere,” she said.
“He had a swollen head and eyes and was all bandaged up.
“There was even a big sticker that said he had a piece of bone in his head removed. It was terrifying. It was really terrifying,” she said.
Doctors said Jax had sustained severe brain trauma and had fractured his skull which resulted in a bleed and a torn ligament in his neck.
“It was touch and go for a while, but four surgeries, four weeks in hospital, and many tears later I was thankfully lucky enough to be able to take my boy home without any permanent issues,” she said.
The 23-year-old was later told an oncoming car clipped the tyres of her Volkswagen Golf, spinning it out of control and into the direct path of a third vehicle that T-boned her at 100km/h (60mph) “exactly where Jax was sitting”.
It took the tot four months to recover in hospital and many more after returning home.
Zoe says that “not a day goes by” when she doesn’t think about how things might have turned out had she not strapped him in rearward facing.
Doctors told her after the crash that young Jax wouldn’t have survived had he been facing the front of the vehicle.
She warned: “If you have already started forward facing your young child please reconsider.
“It is safest to keep your child rearward facing until they reach the forward-facing markers on your car seat.”
She added: “The research has shown time and time again that young children are very top-heavy and if they’re forward-facing, their head will smack forward and literally break their neck so they will be instantly dead.
I had thoughts running through my head like how bad is it? Am I going to lose him?
Zoe ten Broek
“When they’re rear-facing, that doesn’t happen.
“It doesn’t bend forward and the car seat absorbs all of that impact.
“So, if young children get into severe accidents like this, they could actually survive it.”
According to Zoe, Jax recently got an MRI done and was given the all-clear by neurosurgeons.
“Jax is really just your average toddler now. He is developmentally behind in talking (non verbal atm) and was very delayed in walking.
“Was it because of the head trauma? We’ll never know. But he’s thriving in all other areas!” she said.
“I’m very grateful I still have him in my life and I can still hear him laugh and watch him grow.”
Despite it all, Jax is now a happy young tot who will turn three in August.
“He’s amazing. He’s a little social butterfly, super affectionate and super happy. He’s my little lover-boy,” Zoe said.
But there are still moments when memories of the crash come flooding in, especially when the two are on the road together.
“That morning of the crash, it was a little bit rainy so when it does rain, and we’re going on a road that is 100km/h, I can be a little bit triggered by it. I think, ‘Ok, this takes me back to being at the accident.’
“But, we’re fine and Jax is fine in the car. He loves going for rides. No problems.”