Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital hosts National Trauma Survivor’s Day celebration

Recognition of survivors' strength, courage, resilience

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Shock Trauma Program celebrated trauma survivors and the teams who cared for them during a special National Trauma Survivor’s Day Celebration.

RWJUH is one of only three hospitals designated by the state of New Jersey as a Level 1 Trauma Center.

The event took place in the RWJUH Courtyard located at One Robert Wood Johnson Place, New Brunswick.

During the program, the RWJUH and RWJMS Trauma Team celebrated the courage, strength and resilience of two recent patients who received care at RWJUH’s Level 1 Trauma Center: Justin Flax and John Esposito Jr.

Justin Flax’s story

While driving home from nursing school to his Manalapan home on Nov. 9, 2022, Flax was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. He suffered traumatic internal injuries, including a ruptured diaphragm, fractured pelvis and a fractured jaw. Flax underwent multiple surgeries at RWJUH. He was in the hospital for 10 days and could not walk for almost three months. After a long and sometimes grueling physical therapy regimen, he is now walking on his own and plans to resume nursing school next fall. Despite the physical challenges he faces and having his studies interrupted, Flax remains positive and focused on his future. He is confident that this experience will ultimately make him a “better, more empathetic nurse.”

John Esposito’s story

On Dec. 20, 2021, Esposito was part of a Somerset County Public Works road crew completing road repairs in Warren Township when an 80-year-old driver crashed into a work truck, pinning Esposito against its trailer. He was rushed to RWJUH’s Level 1 Trauma Center for life-saving surgery. Esposito lost both his legs, but he is determined to move forward with his life, and his courage continues to inspire others. Before the crash, the South Bound Brook resident had a longtime commitment to Muay Thai, a martial art and combat sport that incorporates kicks and punches using the knees and elbows. The philosophy and discipline required by the martial art fuels his positivity and commitment to return to the ring and box again.

The Level 1 Trauma Center at RWJUH is a leader in providing life-saving trauma care to New Jersey residents. The center at RWJUH cares for nearly 3,000 trauma patients annually in an Emergency Department that sees nearly 90,000 patients each year.

In addition to treating the seriously injured, clinical faculty affiliated with the Level 1 Trauma Center at RWJUH and RWJMS conduct research and educate other health care professionals about the most recent advances in trauma care.