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'I'm stronger because of it.' One woman's journey from 1% chance of survival to registered nurse

Tansy Lederhaus looks at memories of traumatic childhood crash
Posted at 7:41 PM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 18:11:42-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — In honor of Nurses Appreciation Month, one woman is sharing the remarkable story of why she chose to enter her field.

Tansy Lederhaus works as a registered nurse at OSMS in Green Bay.

But she found her calling after experiencing something very traumatic.

When Tansy was a teenager, she was involved in a serious car crash. It claimed the life of her best friend, and Tansy was given a 1% chance of survival.

"I was in a medically induced coma for the first 10 days, I want to say, and then as they started to wake me from that, I start remembering things. And I remember waking up and my dad being the first person that I saw," Tansy said.

Her father was the first person to tell her that she'd been in a crash.

"I said, 'Is the car okay?' That was my first question," Tansy remembered.

Among other injuries, she had broken both of her legs, her spleen ruptured, and her liver was badly lacerated. The fact that the bleeding stopped was a miracle, according to her surgeon.

"And then it was me just kind of coming to terms with, you know, losing my best friend. And then, me being 17 years old in this really rough situation in the hospital," said Tansy.

Her dad kept a journal and took photos, which Tansy will still read through to this day.

But that is only half of Tansy's story.

Tansy went on to pursue a career in the medical field, eventually becoming a registered nurse.

"I always, you know, entertained the idea of possibly doing that. But then when my crash happened, and I saw the impact that the nurses had... on my life in particular, I think that kind of solidified it for me then," Tansy said.

Surviving such a traumatic incident turned into an asset in a field where empathy is everything. And her coworkers agree she has an incredible skill set for the job.

"She is very empathetic," said Katie Thomson, Tansy's coworker of about twelve years. "She's very compassionate. She will go out of her way to do what's right for the patient. Always."

"She's excellent. She has excellent time management skills. She's great with patients; you can always count on her," said Dr. Steve Schechinger. "She says she's going to do something and it happens."

The job of a nurse can be difficult, but it's important work, and her coworkers say Tansy is inspirational not only for her strength but also for her attitude.

"She's fun. She keeps you on your toes. Tansy makes me a better nurse," Thomson said. "She encourages everybody around her to be better. And to do better."

"Whether it's helping me in the operating room, whether it's in the clinic — she's a leader amongst the other nurses," said Schechinger.

"I mean, it's a pretty amazing story — what she's been through and was able to overcome, and how it's affected her life and the patients she cares for," Schechinger said. "I think it's, you know, it's a tragic story, but I think what she's done to overcome that is pretty impressive."

Despite the odds, Tansy survived. And it changed the course of the rest of her life — and every life she's touched since.

"It was a big thing that happened to me when I was younger. And I've got scars and reminders of it, you know, every day," Tansy said. "But I healed from it. And I moved on, and I think I'm stronger because of it."