This woman trained as a neurosurgeon after her mom was left quadriplegic after being shot at by a gang member.
Dr. Betsy Grunch, 43, was inspired to train as a brain and spinal cord surgeon after a horrific incident left her mom, Betty Uriegas, 63, paralyzed from the neck down.
In 1994, Betty Uriegas was 34 and working as a police officer. She was attending the scene of a reported “suspicious vehicle” on Atlanta Highway when her patrol car was shot at.
Attempting to evade the bullets, Betty swerved suddenly, causing her to hit a tree with her car’s roll bar snapping her neck.
The suspect responsible for the shooting was never identified.
Daughter Betsy was just 14 at the time and vowed to study to become a surgeon to help people like her mom.
“My mom was a police officer injured in the line of duty,” said Besty, who lives with her partner, Ray, 48, a private investigator, and their children Riley, eight, and Beatrice, five – from Gainesville, Georgia.
“It was extremely difficult in the beginning.
“My mom was very athletic prior to the accident, so the transition was tough.
“There were lapses in her mom’s nurse care, so she and her step-father had to “fill in the gaps,” said Betsy.
After the accident, while Betsy was still in High School, she trained to become a certified nursing assistant.
This allowed her to better assist with her mom’s daily activities, helping her to eat, go to the bathroom, and wash herself.
Betsy recalled the terrible moment she found out what had happened to her mom.
“I’ll never forget waking up.
“I was supposed to go softball practice when I was told mom was never going to walk again – it was very traumatic.”
During her mom’s recovery, Betsy would frequently go to rehab with her and learned how to take care of her.
She became enamored with the healthcare professionals providing care to her mom and asked to shadow the surgeon over the summer.
Betsy was hooked and even got a peak into the operating theater.
She eventually went to medical school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia – before specializing in neurological surgery at Duke University in North Carolina, where she graduated in 2013.
“The best thing about it is being able to intervene in someone’s health and make a life-changing difference,” said Betsy.
“I have also worked at a trauma center and have seen a lot of horrible things.
“Dealing with death and mortality is hard.
“It’s easy to become cold about it. I really try my best to connect with patients and explain things on a level they understand.
“I have to remember that I have to go home too and try not to carry emotional baggage from work home with me.
She has no regrets about following her dream, even though the job is very demanding.
“It’s a lot,” she said.
“Your time management has to be on point, and there are so many emotional and physical demands.
“It’s also very hard to try and maintain my work-life balance and be able to spend enough quality time with family.”
Betsy says her mom is “extremely proud” of her and her compassion and drive to help others.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.