Family uses fish oil to help teen injured in hit & run

PALM DESERT, Calif. - (CNN Contributed) A Palm Desert teenager who was nearly killed in a hit and run crash in 2012 has been on a long road to recovery. Grant Virgin's family has been doing everything possible to help him return to a normal life, and that includes using fish oil for medical treatment.

Grant's family knew only a few details about the accident that nearly took his life in September of 2012 -- a white sedan hit him as he was walking near Sacred Heart Church and the driver left him for dead.

CNN Article: 'He's going to better than he was before'

The teen was airlifted on Deep Canyon in Palm Desert and his family rushed to the hospital to see if he was still alive.

In an interview with CNN, Grant's parents talked about that night.

"He had a torn aorta, multiple brain bleeds, a broken wrist, a broken elbow, both his femurs were fractured," his father said.

His emergency room doctor told Grant's family to let him go.

"The fact that this doctor wasn't fighting for his life just blew my mind. He's not dead yet. Why would you...as a parent how could you ever let go knowing you hadn't done every single possible thing that you could for your son," said Grant's mother.

Doing every single possible thing was going to take Grant's family on a wild journey, it was filled with twists and turns and some unconventional therapies. Two weeks after his accident and several surgeries, Grant was in a coma. His heart was okay, but his brain was not.

"The doctor told me, 'Okay, now we wait.' Surely there's something we can do? She said, 'Nope, there's nothing we can do, we just wait, the brain's got it's own time schedule,'" according to Grant's parents.

In what would become a theme, Grant's family swept aside that doctor's advice. First, they tried progesterone - a hormone that according to early studies, may reduce inflammation in the brain. Soon afterward, his family said Grant began to speak.

"He'd say, 'Let's go', he'd say, 'I want to go home', but really just brief little 'yes, no' type of things. Not long explanations or anything," his parents said.

But then Grant's mother got an email with a link to a CNN article concerning Omega 3's.

"He never would have come out of a coma if it hadn't been for the use of Omega 3's," his mother said.

The CNN story was about high-dose Omega 3's found in fish oil, and how it may have played a healing role in cases of traumatic brain injury.

During a traumatic brain injury the brain swells and nerve cells stop communicating  and eventually die. Omega 3 fatty acids can do three very important things theoretically: Rebuild damaged nerve cells; reduce inflammation; and keep brain cells from dying.

The science is not clear. There have been no large studies and it didn't always seem to work. Still, Grant's family was desperate and determined so they decided to give it a try.

They didn't want to wait 20 more years for more studies to be conducted.

Grant was given 20 grams of fish oil per day through his feeding tube. In December of 2012, nine weeks after his accident and only two days after starting high dose fish oil therapy, Grant Virgin made a phone call.

"It was unbelievable," his parents said. "A couple days into giving him fish oil he was now talking in sentences."

In time, Grant became more animated and soon he was walking.

CNN caught up with Grant, a year after nearly dying and a year after his family was told to let him go.

"I'm Grant White Virgin, I'm 17, almost 18," Grant said laughing.

He's doing everything doctors said he wouldn't.

The driver who hit Grant has never been found. Police are still looking for a woman who is described as Hispanic, in her 30's, with shoulder length black hair who was driving a white compact car.

Police believe the suspect lives or works in the Palm Desert area.

Call Valley Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-7867 if you have any information about the hit and run. You can remain anonymous and could earn up to a $1,000 cash reward.

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