I am Lucky to Be Alive
…Life of Good Samaritan Saved by Real Heroes
Travis Fortson had given blood since his college days at the Citadel. He always enjoyed helping others and gave as often as he could. But never would he have expected that blood would save his own life.
It was July 9, 2007, and Travis was driving on Highway 85, near Gaffney, when he saw a driver losing control of a car. The car hit a guardrail and crisscrossed the highway before stopping. Travis pulled over to the shoulder to check on the driver. The next few minutes were a blur. “All of a sudden, an 18-wheeler came right at me. I turned and tried to run,” said Travis. “But I knew I couldn’t outrun the truck, so I dived into a ditch.”
The truck driver was unable to reduce his speed in time to avoid the onlookers who had slowed due to the accident. The truck went off the road and ran directly through the accident scene. The truck went over Travis, leaving him with broken bones, and a leg injury that would require amputation. “I was lying on my stomach, and I knew something was wrong. The heel of my right foot was on my shoulder behind me.”
Travis was flown by helicopter to Spartanburg Regional in critical condition and later taken to Greenville Memorial. His wife Heather was in New York with their two daughters, Belle (age 6) and Amelia (age 4) when she received the frightening call. She boarded a flight to Greenville as fast as she could. “Travis entered the emergency room with the highest morbidity rate,” said Heather. “He wasn’t expected to live.”
Travis underwent 5 surgeries during his first three days in the hopsital. In the first, he was given 8 pints of blood, along with platelets. All arteries and veins in his leg were severed and his blood wouldn’t clot at the amputation site. In the second surgery, Travis was given 6 pints of blood. “The blood transfusions saved my life,” said Travis. “The blood needed to be there for me. I am lucky to be alive.”
Travis’ ‘Good Samaritan’ story touched the hearts of many throughout the Upstate and beyond. But he says the real heroes were his friends, his family, and the many who donated blood at blood drives after the accident. In fact, The Blood Connection reports that 173 units were collected in honor of Travis. Many of these came from Fortson’s church, Buncombe United Methodist Church. “For a long time, my daughters would ask me why I stopped on the highway,” said Travis. “They were mad at me and didn’t understand. I told them sometimes people need help. We can’t predict what will happen. You just have to do the right thing.”