AUSTIN (KXAN) - Nearly three weeks after University of Texas soccer athlete Kylie Doniak finally got to sleep at home rather than in medical facilities, she is now able to walk without a cane permanently for the first time since her hit-and-run accident.
"Her knee is still bothering her, so keep praying for her knee to get stronger and for her balance to become better and better," read a post by her sister, Alyssa, on the CaringBridge website on Wednesday. "She had an X-ray last week and the doctor said her broken leg was healing nicely, but they will probably never be able to repair her ACL again. We are focusing on pain management and strength exercises for now."
Doniak spent two months in medical facilities following injuries sustained during that hit-and-run in Downtown Austin.
Doniak moved back home to California in late February so she could continue her rehab but for the first time on April 18 headed to the comfort of her home to sleep in her own bed.
According to her sister, Doniak is now tasked with the daily prayer at the family's dinner every night, thanking God profusely for everything she and her family have been blessed with.
"She told us last night that she was so happy that she could be used by God to bring people to Him. I was speechless (and teared up of course)," said Alyssa. "Keep praying for her clarity because she still is very confused a lot and she repeats questions over and over all day. :) She is starting to know some of the answers, but we have to prompt her and remind her that she knows."
The family asks for prayers of patience as they try to answer her questions in the best way to help Doniak remember and understand.
Doniak began a day program April 19, where she is able to live at home and go to therapy during the day.
Alyssa said that while her sister's homecoming is very exciting, it puts a little more pressure on them -- especially their mother -- to be the best nurse they can be. They will be on call at all times.
"This really is a journey, and we never know where we're going next," read a post by Alyssa on April 19.
Doniak's boyfriend and family, from Texas, have made a couple of trips to California to visit the recovering athlete.
Doniak got some brief time away from her rehabilitation center in California to spend some quality family time at her grandfather's house for Easter -- and even found the coveted "Golden Egg" during the egg hunt.
"Today was the best Easter that my family could ever have asked for," read a post by Alyssa on April 8. "Kylie was able to leave the hospital for a little field trip and come to my grandparent's house for the day."
Photos from the CaringBridge website show the Doniak sisters posing for an Easter photo, among others of her bowling and kicking around the soccer ball with her teammates.
Doniak is reportedly making huge strides every day. It's a process that has transpired throughout 10 weeks, something her family said is "such a short amount of time in the big picture."
In the days leading up to Easter, Doniak -- who is showing more of her personality -- spent some time making a birthday card for her father and prepping to bake some cupcakes for his Friday celebration.
Meanwhile, Doniak continues to work through her speech and physical therapy, while her family focuses on getting her to eat and take in enough calories to sustain her daily activities.
Much of the recovery focus is on Doniak's short-term memory and her right knee. According to CaringBridge posts by family, it is the knee she had ACL surgery on in December and is the leg that now has the rod in the tibia following the February wreck.
While it is likely the ACL is torn again, family members said doctors are not sure if it is.
"It hurts her a lot when she walks, which inhibits her mobility," read a Thursday post by Alyssa. "They can't do surgery on it for awhile, so the only thing we can do is pain management. Pray also for her to sleep well each night and heal that body and brain so she can keep engaging in therapy full force!"
In addition, her feeding tube has been removed. Family members said they hope the hole in her neck closes up soon, and without infection, because it is very bothersome to Doniak while it heals.
Special note on Thursday from Doniak's mother and father, posted by Alyssa
"Special note from my mom and dad: Thank you so much for all of the love and support that we continue to receive. There are no words really for the amount of support that we have been given these past couple of months. We know this will be a long road and we know that we are not alone in this. Everything, from the delicious homemade dinners being delivered to our house every week, to the visits from friends and family at the hospital (with snacks!), to the cards and letters we receive at home, does not go unappreciated, trust me! Every little
thing has made this difficult time in our lives a little bit easier. Keep praying and watching God work through our amazing girl. We love you all!"
The first images of Doniak since the hit-and-run wreck showed her hugging her dad during physical therapy and another of her kicking a soccer ball as she's seated in a wheelchair.
A post March 12 read:
"Kylie had another good weekend and day today. She said hello when the phone rang and she is starting to slowly string together some words and get some thoughts out to us. It does not happen every time we ask her a question but it is sooo great to hear her voice!!!"
In late February, Chili's locations throughout the Central Texas area hosted a fundraiser for Doniak and her family. One is happening Wednesday in Glendora, Calif.
A man chased down the driver charged with running down Doniak, and crime victims' rights group and nonprofit organization Crime Victims First awarded 47-year-old Sisto Perez with a medal and a certificate of appreciation for his single-hand apprehension of the man.
Perez, who was riding his motorcycle downtown when a car ran over Doniak and others, said he was just helping police when he sprang into action.
Nicholas Colunga, 22, is charged with intoxication assault and failure to stop and render aid.
The expected winter weather has delayed initial construction work on MoPac until the rain and cold temperatures pass through.
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.
An unusually cold blast of arctic air arriving early this morning will be followed by an increasing chance of freezing drizzle/rain and sleet by Friday morning.
The HealthCare.gov website is working more smoothly for central Texans.
City leaders in West Lake Hills discussed the ongoing concern with the city's water system Wednesday night. The problems arise when water is needed most; fighting fires.
Federal, state and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 15 people and seized 70 firearms in raid on a methamphetamine operation based in Burnet County.