Over the past two months, people from all over the South Plains, and even across Texas and Oklahoma, have taken an interest in the story of Malori Maddox.
She’s the 20 year-old volleyball player from Lubbock Christian University. At a volleyball game on November 10 in Wichita Falls, Malori suffered from brain bleeding, which sent her to the emergency room for hours of life-saving surgery.
On January 10, two months after her brain bleed, doctors discharged Mallory to come home to Lubbock.
“We’re just so blessed she survived, and we just call her ‘our miracle Mal,’ and we’ll never forget what God and the doctors did when they saved her,” said Malori’s mom Sarah Maddox.
EverythingLubbock.com sat down with Malori at her home on Thursday to hear the full story of her journey to recovery.
Malori said she owes everything to her friends, family, teammates, and doctors.
She recalled taking a nap on the day of the incident, because, she’s the type of person who usually spends her downtime getting homework done. On that morning, she had actually taken a test and received a perfect score, far exceeding the class average.
“I was just warming up for the game and I remember losing vision in one of my eyes, I don’t remember anything bad, I just kind of stopped for a second,” she said.
She remembers stepping off the court, but miraculously she doesn’t remember any pain.
“[My coaches] said I was kind of complaining of a headache and losing vision in one eye,” she added, but her memory of the day stops at that point.
Her mom, who was at the game watching saw the rest unfold. The coach asked her if Malori got migraines, Sarah Maddox said no, she didn’t.
“Coach motioned for us to go in the locker room with the trainer and that’s where we found [Malori] rocking back and forth, holding onto the left side of her head, and immediately she became immobile.”
Her family and coaches rushed Malori to Kell West Hospital in Wichita Falls.
“She became unconscious about 5 minutes in to the 15 minute drive to Kell West, she was committing quite a bit,” Sarah Maddox explained.
“Right before we got to the ER there she was fully stiff. She had herniated and the bleed was really bad and coming really fast. When they got her to the table the doctor said there was no blood pressure,” Sarah added.
The Maddox family was told that Malori’s condition was life threatening and that she had to be operated on immediately.
“They had to give her four minutes of blood, they had to work for 30 minutes to remove her skull bone flap and get to the bleed, Dr. [Yogish] Kamath worked for four and a half hours, to stop the bleed in her brain and didn’t give up. We were forever grateful to him and to God for saving her life that night.”
Malori’s family learned that her bleed was a result of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which Sarah describes as a bad connection between arteries and veins in the brain. Malori was born with the condition but wasn’t aware of it. Sarah added that Mallory had infrequent headaches over the last few months, but hadn’t gone to have the headaches checked out.
Malori gradually regained consciousness and was soon transported to the Zale Lipshy Hospital in Dallas. The whole time she was surrounded by teammates, coaches, church community, family, and her boyfriend.
“I don’t know mentally if I would have been looking up if they hadn’t given me that sense of peace all the time,” Malori said.
After weeks of therapy, Dr. Babu Welch led a six hour surgery on Malori, to remove the AVM and to reinsert the pieces of her skull.
On January 10 Malori was released from the hospital and returned back to Lubbock. Her home is now filled with signs, get well cards, and treats from people all around Lubbock, cheering her on.
Life is not completely back to normal for Malori, she lost her peripheral vision, much of her hair, and some of her short term memory. She will be taking the spring off from LCU, but hopes to finish her final semester there in the next year or so.
“I’m trying to get a little better at life each day, like trying to make a little bit of every activity in life into some sort of therapy,”Malori explained.
After that, she aspires to be a physical therapist, and believes that her recovery will teach her a great deal about how to help others through injuries.
“Hopefully that can make me a better physical therapist, if that’s still God’s will for me,” Malori said.
Always an athlete, Malori is also happy to be walking around again and visiting the LCU athletic facilities. Being away in Dallas made her miss her hometown.
Malori’s family said that Lubbock residents helped them to feel more at peace during Malori’s recovery.
“I so appreciate the love and support, prayers, gift cards, people sending us cash, bringing flowers, bringing meals, it has been over the top from our Lubbock family and I want to say thank you to Lubbock, Texas,” Sarah said.
Malori also feels beyond blessed. She explained that some people feared that this experience would be upsetting for her, instead it has given her more faith and love.
“Sometimes I get too schedule oriented, and everything needs to go to plan, sometimes we need a little wakeup call to show us we’re totally not in control,” she said.
Now, she holds onto an even stronger appreciation for her loved ones and her community.
“Everyone’s come together and kind of slowed down a little bit [because of the incident], I think we always get too rushed and always try to do something better. I think like Dad always says, we need to stop smell the roses a little bit,” Malori said with a smile.