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Young Gilbert man makes remarkable recovery after traumatic injuries from motorcycle crash

 4 minute read time

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

CHANDLER, Ariz. (May 29, 2024) – A young Gilbert man is recounting the heroic efforts of the medical teams at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center who cared for him after he suffered traumatic injuries in a motorcycle crash.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there are hundreds of thousands of motorcycles registered in the Grand Canyon state. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May is a timely reminder for everyone on the road, four- and two-wheeled drivers, to make safe driving a priority.

Last July, Jeff Mugongo sustained catastrophic injuries to both of his legs after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in the East Valley. The collision threw him from the motorcycle, shattering his left leg and breaking the right. Thankfully, a helmet and some incredible luck saved the rest of his body from harm. The injuries to his legs were significant and he was urgently rushed to Chandler Regional for trauma care.

Injuries from motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of admission to Chandler Regional’s Level I Trauma Center. Chandler Regional’s trauma team is made up of trauma critical/acute care surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopedic and plastic surgeons, emergency doctors and nurses, radiologists and CT techs. Uniquely, its orthopedic and plastic surgeons work as a singular team in the trauma space to provide more effective coordination and care for difficult, traumatic injuries that involve bone and soft tissue.

“I was born in Rwanda and first came to the United States as a child refugee in 2010 from a refugee camp in Tanzania. If I was in the camp when this happened, I would not have survived,” says Mugongo, 26, who learned English, began to excel in school and eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Chadron State College in Nebraska before moving to Gilbert. “I cannot say enough about the medical team at Chandler Regional - from the trauma team to those in orthopedics, my care was truly exceptional.”

An open fracture in Mugongo’s leg and a large soft tissue injury required specialized and reconstructive care from Dignity Health Medical Group’s orthoplastics team. Mugongo underwent seven different surgeries to save both legs, and has had countless hours of physical therapy throughout his first year of recovery.

“Without our teams working so closely together, Jeff likely would have undergone an amputation,” says Dignity Health Medical Group reconstructive plastic surgeon, Joshua Kelley, MD. “Seeing patients like Jeff who are so dedicated to their own healing reminds all of us why we do what we do.”

Mugongo’s entire care team - including Dr. Kelley, trauma surgeon Charles Hu, MD, reconstructive plastic surgeon, Joshua Nelson, MD, and orthopedic surgeon Ammar Karim, DO - praises the young man’s strength, positive attitude, bravery and resilience. 

“Jeff is a wonderful patient who is doing well and making remarkable strides. His injuries were so severe and complex that his treatment is still an evolving situation. His recovery journey will continue as we work with him towards complete healing.”

Since the accident, Mugongo is now walking daily and working out. He’s also working on growing his career, providing motivational speeches about his life experience and using his social work degree to write self-awareness programs that focus on inner strength. He also leads JTS Fitness, an East Valley organization that focuses on providing competitive advantage to young athletes along with guidance and tools to help them become better leaders of tomorrow. 

“I am a walking miracle,” says Mugongo. “Thanks to the team at Chandler Regional, and to a lot of hard work, I am grateful to continue helping people and to make a difference. By becoming more self-aware, we are able to influence people to a more positive work/life balance. We are able to be who we are. Truly.”

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Publish date: 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Media Contact

Sara Patterson, External Communications Manager

p: (602) 406-3312

[email protected]