OC nurse who was left paralyzed in a freak accident is retiring from the hospital that cared for her

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) — For the past 31 years, Deanne Niedziela has dedicated her life to helping others at Providence Mission Hospital.

However, a year ago her life changed forever.

“I spent my 30th birthday in this hospital bed,” Niedziela said.

The nurse leader who once oversaw spine care at the hospital became a patient herself after being struck by a falling tree while traveling in Costa Rica.

Niedziela’s spinal cord was shattered and is now paralyzed.

“This is a tragic accident that happened to me, but over which I have no control,” she said. “I can’t look back at the calendar.”

On Thursday, Niedziela returned to Mission Hospital for the final time in her role as executive director of acute care services.

She made her final rounds and said goodbye to doctors and nurses.

“I just know that my colleagues are just great people,” Niedziela said.

Deanne’s colleagues, like Cherie Fox, said retirement is the end of a great career.

“To have cared for patients and run this spine institute and now have to participate in it as a patient is really just an extraordinary triumph of courage and strength,” Fox said. “She’s definitely a driving force for a lot of us nurses on how to overcome, how to adapt and how to really be that guiding principle for a lot of us.”

Niedziela is focused on her recovery and becoming more independent.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help her reach that goal.

She said she could not tackle this new chapter of her life without those she has worked so closely with over the past three decades.

“I am so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life,” Niedziela said. “Now you know we can live anywhere and I feel like I don’t want to leave because they are my family. They’re just my family.’

Copyright © 2024 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.