When Geoffrey Yoste was suffered a skull fracture and brain bleed in a skateboarding accident, he needed everything to go right in order to have a chance to survive.
Fortunately, he says, he was taken to Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center, where a team of experts was able to deliver the lifesaving care he needed.
Now, Geoffrey is back to living the life he loves – working in diagnostic imaging, spending time with his tight-knit family, and even finishing a half marathon.
The Yoste family has always been close.
Virginia Yoste recalls growing up in her big, tight-knit Catholic family with sister Jessica and identical twin brothers Geoffrey and William. As they had families of their own, they supported one another during tough times and celebrated in times of joy.
It was celebration that brought them together in Oxford, Mississippi on September 22, 2021.
“It was my mom’s birthday and my niece was in the homecoming court parade,” Virginia recalls. “Our whole family got together for dinner, and we just had a great time.”
In a blink, a gathering that started as a celebration turned into a different kind of demonstration of the family’s remarkable connection and faith.
Geoffrey had bought skateboards for himself and his son, and he was trying them out with his nephew. “I had been trying to learn to surf, and there’s not a whole lot you can do for that in Mississippi,” he said. “I was doing some drills, and I fell off the skateboard backwards.”
Unconscious and bleeding from his nose and ears, Geoffrey was airlifted to Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center.
As the only Level-1 Trauma Center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis, its expert team provides lifesaving care to the most critically injured patients from all over the Mid-South. Over the years, Regional One Health Foundation donors have helped fund training, technology, and other resources that have helped make the Elvis Presley Trauma Center one of the best in the nation.
“Having a Level One Trauma Center in Memphis saved my life,” Geoffrey said. “Everything had to go the way it did in order for me to live. I’m extremely blessed.”
Geoffrey had a skull fracture and massive brain bleed. He would need a craniotomy, an operation to remove a piece of the skull to relieve pressure in the brain.
Doctors gave him a 30 percent chance of survival and said even if he lived his function could be severely diminished.
Family members gathered at the hospital and at Virginia’s Memphis home. “We just prayed over him constantly,” she said.
Geoffrey made it through surgery, but doctors said that it is impossible to predict when, how well, or if a patient with a traumatic brain injury will recover.
It was overwhelming, but the family knew Geoffrey was in good hands. Even though his accident occurred at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the day a mass shooting in Collierville sent numerous patients to the trauma center, his care team never wavered.
“It wasn’t chaotic. No one was panicking. There was no drama,” Virginia said. “The doctors and nurses were incredible. They are just angels, every single one of them.”
As for Geoffrey, he doesn’t remember much about those early days and weeks, but examples of empathy did break through the fog of critical injury.
“I’d be lying if I said I remembered a lot, but I do know the nurses were Godsent,” he said. “My brother told me they were changing me, keeping me clean. After being in there a month, I’d grown a beard, and they were careful about keeping stuff off my beard.”
Geoffrey’s team also supported his family, making sure they had access to pastoral care and keeping them informed. Ruth Shumaker, recently retired as director of perioperative services, was instrumental in helping them understand Geoffrey’s prognosis and plan of care.
Shumaker, whose leadership helped establish the exceptional nursing care Geoffrey benefited from, used to live across the street from the Yostes and watched the siblings grow up. It added a personal note to her commitment to ensuring every patient receives the highest level of care.
For Geoffrey, that care included helping his body heal and regain strength, and slowly but surely he became more aware and responsive. “For a long time, it was baby steps,” Virginia said. “Then one day I walked in, and he was awake. I go in and start talking real slow: ‘Do – you – know – who – I – am?’ and he says, ‘Virginia, what the heck is wrong with you?’”
As Geoffrey healed, the focus shifted to rehabilitation.
Like so many things for the Yostes, he was guided by faith and family. Geoffrey was determined to get back to wife Eryn, who was his high school sweetheart; their four kids, ages 2 through 16; his mom and dad; and the siblings who never left his side.
“I’m a real family guy. I love spending time with my family,” Geoffrey said. “I coach my son’s football team, and just try to be with my kids as much as I can.”
Since getting home, Geoffrey has continued a recovery that is nothing short of amazing.
He went back to work in diagnostic imaging and started a job as a radiation therapist. He’s been paddle boarding several times and exercises regularly. The siblings recently got together to see their favorite artist, Jack Johnson, in concert.
“We played his song, Better Together, all the time while he was in the hospital. It became our theme song,” Virginia said. “We said, ‘If he makes it, we’ll all go see him.’ We got tickets in September. We went for this incredible dinner and just talked about the experience.”
Incredibly, Geoffrey even ran the St. Jude Half Marathon, joining Virginia as she ran the full 26.2 miles. “I had time to reflect and think about when I’d been the happiest, and I narrowed it down to when I was really shooting for goals,” he said. “I didn’t want to do it for the glory; just to show my kids that you’ve got to get up and go.”
When Geoffrey and Virginia crossed the finish line, they knew that just blocks away sat the Elvis Presley Trauma Center, the starting point of a journey they never asked for, but one that confirmed their faith in God, the medical community, and family.
“When I was training, I ran by Regional One Health sometimes, and I stopped and pray for all the people there,” Virginia said. “We know we were in a hospital that was divined for us. It shows what you can get if you put prayer and medical genius together: a miracle.”