An emotional Maddy Wilford, who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, credited doctors and first responders for saving her life during a news conference at Broward Health North on Monday morning.
Wilford, a 17-year-old junior, was struck by at least three bullets and underwent three emergency surgeries as a result of the Feb. 14 shooting at the Parkland high school that killed 17.
Wilford was discharged from the hospital last week and doctors expect her to be able to resume classes next week. They also believe she will be able to play on the Douglas basketball team next season.
“I’d just like to say that I’m so grateful to be here and it wouldn’t be possible without the doctors, officers and first responders and these amazing doctors,” Wilford said. “And especially all the love that everyone has sent.”
Wilford appeared at the news conference with her parents, Missy and David Wilford. Although they made statements, they did not take questions.
“I could probably spend an hour talking about my daughter,” Missy said. “She’s a fighter.”
Also participating in the news conference were Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, medical director of trauma services at Broward Health North; Dr. Evan Boyar, medical director of emergency services at the hospital; and Lt. Laz Ojeda of the Coral Springs Fire Department, who transported Wilford.
Ojeda said his team originally was instructed to transport Wilford to Broward General, roughly 30 miles from the high school, but because Wilford was able to relay to him that she was 17 years old, he made the decision to instead go to Broward Health, only 10 miles away — a decision that may have saved her life, he said.
“I believe in miracles,” Nichiporenko said. He added, “She’s very lucky. Very, very lucky, because we’re talking about large-caliber bullets penetrating through the chest and abdomen.”
Her basketball coach at Douglas, Marilyn Rule Heinrich, posted on Facebook that she was “fighting for her life.”
Wilford underwent two operations on Feb. 15 and a third the next day. During this process, Missy Wilford posted on Facebook that the surgeons still hadn’t determined how many times she’d been struck. “But she is alive which is a miracle,” she wrote.
Following the shooting, the Douglas basketball team chose to forfeit its playoff game against Cypress Bay, ending its season. Upon learning this, one high school team in Maine warmed up with all the players wearing No. 20 warm-up shirts, matching Wilford’s jersey number as a guard for the Eagles.
President Donald Trump visited Wilford in the hospital on Feb. 16.