OREM — Eduardo Lozano should be gathering school supplies, moving into a new apartment and getting ready for his first semester at Brigham Young University.
Instead, the 18-year-old is re-learning how to walk, talk, eat and dress himself after a car accident on July 4 left him in a coma for nearly a month.
Lozano was with three other teens heading to a party when the car he was driving was T-boned by a truck, sending all four occupants to the hospital. Lozano is the only one who hasn’t been released. He is still in rehab at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
His mother Carmen Lozano had moved to Houston with her two other sons just a month before the accident but rushed back when she heard the news.
“He had 10 broken ribs, two punctured lungs, a broken pelvis and he injured his liver and his spleen,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. They weren’t sure he was going to make it because the injuries were really bad.”
Carmen has been in Utah ever since the accident staying with her former neighbor, Emma Dexter, in Orem. Dexter has known the Lozanos for years and lived just down the street from the family until Carmen moved in early June. She said Eduardo was so excited when he got accepted to BYU.
“He was going to be the first in his family to go to college. He was so thrilled when he was accepted,” Dexter said. “He is an outstanding young man. He has done his best, these kids. Whatever they have they have had to earn because their mom is just doing her best to keep things afloat.”
Dexter said she took Carmen to BYU and helped her get Eduardo’s classes dropped for fall semester so he wouldn’t get incompletes on his record. BYU has put Eduardo’s admission on hold so he will be able to register for classes if he is able to return to school. Carmen said his dream of going to college may no longer be possible.
“He is very talented. He is a very smart kid and was going to major in engineering,” Carmen said. “That is what really kills me, just to think all of that is going to go to waste and he is not going to be the same. It is so hard.”
Carmen said doctors have said Eduardo could make a full recovery and lead a mostly normal life or he could continue to struggle with basic things like speech and walking. Right now, as with most brain injuries, the Lozanos are just watching and waiting, hoping for continued progress on Eduardo’s part. Carmen said he can walk, eat and dress with assistance and he can speak but that it is still difficult to understand him at times. She also said they are hoping he will be released from the hospital sometime next week.
With more than a month’s stay in the hospital, most of it in the Intensive Care Unit, the medical bills the Lozanos will be facing are overwhelming. Carmen said she hasn’t received any indication of how much the bill will be but that it will likely be well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eduardo didn’t qualify for Medicaid until Aug. 1 and Carmen’s insurance through her former employer will only pay up to $1,000 a day.
“That seems like a large amount but when you see the array of equipment in his ICU room and realize that the nurses there have only two patients each, you realize how intense and focused the care has to be for those patients and how expensive it is going to be,” Dexter said.
The Orem neighborhood in which the Lozanos used to live has done its best to help with one family donating an older van for Carmen to use getting back and forth to the hospital and several families donating gas money for the unemployed single mother.
There also has been a fund set up at Wells Fargo in both Carmen’s and Eduardo’s names. All money will go to help pay for medical expenses.
Carmen said she will be staying in Utah as long as necessary, leaving her other two sons in Texas with her parents and dedicating all of her time to helping Eduardo get well again.
“I am just going to dedicate my time to him,” she said. “It is so hard because he doesn’t remember me being here from day to day. The doctors said losing short-term memory is normal and that is should return, but it breaks my heart to see him like this. I never thought I was going to go through something like this.”