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Utah teen taken off life support weeks after dirt bike accident left him with traumatic brain injury

Champ Salley's grandmother says his choice to be an organ donor will save another child's life
Posted at 8:15 AM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 15:08:46-04

A Utah teenager was taken off life support Sunday, three weeks after he received a traumatic brain injury in a dirt bike accident.

According to a GoFundMe set up for the family's medical expenses, Champ Salley was enjoying a dirt bike ride when he was thrown from the vehicle, landed on his head, and sustained major brain trauma as well a compressed spine fracture on Sunday, April 3.

He was taken to Primary Children’s Hospital where he was battling swelling of the brain, a compressed spine, a collapsed lung, and pneumonia.

According to a social media post by his grandmother, Susan Salley, on Sunday his condition was constantly changing over the course of his hospitalization.

"The last three weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. We have witnessed many miracles which allowed us to communicate with him for several days. He was awake, could nod his head, move his hands and feet, and even shrug his shoulders answering purposeful questions," she said. "Then a week ago it all came crashing down. He had an episode of a severe storming in his brain coupled by a small stroke. He went in for emergency surgery. This included removing a portion of the rear of the skull to relieve the pressures in his brain."

His grandmother wrote that Champ's condition continued to deteriorate until the family made the difficult decision this past Sunday to remove him from life support.

Champ's grandmother said there was a silver lining to the tragedy.

"You might call it one more miracle," she wrote. "Just a month ago when Champ got his learner’s permit to drive he checked the box to be an organ donor! This made this decision easier for his parents. One last act of selfless service by all of them."

Salley said a family that has been waiting for a lung transplant for their child was a perfect match with Champ.

"We know that his organs will help many live, or have a better life. What joy these families must be feeling today," she wrote.

Champ's mother, Alicia Salley, told FOX 13 News on Monday that Champ was a very special boy with a contagious smile and did all the right things while riding, including wearing a helmet.

"Champ was a fighter and was making progress in his recovery before there was a setback (the stroke)," she said. "If anything else should be recognized in this horrible tragedy, it would be how important wearing the proper safety gear is. It was because he wore all of his safety gear that he was able to be an organ donor. And had he not had that stroke, we would be saying the helmet saved his life."

"It was ever a rare moment to catch him not smiling or laughing," Alicia added. "He found joy in all of the things he did and never gave me a hard time about anything. I dreaded the day he would be a typical teenager with attitude or rebellions, but it never happened."

Champ's funeral service was being planned in St. George. He leaves behind Alicia Salley (his mother), Scott Greenwalt (stepfather), Christopher Salley (his father), Erica Langford (stepmother), and sister Elonna Greenwalt.