Photo provided by family
Cassie Defoor, who is beating the odds in her recovery from brain damage caused by a routine surgery, enjoys a visit from her 10-year-old son at the Shepherd Center’s Secret Garden. Click here to go to her GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.
Pickens Sheriff’s Deputy Cassie Defoor is defying the odds.
The 30-year-old deputy is making miraculous strides after a routine procedure went awry and left her in a medically induced coma with grim chances of recovery in February.
“They told me this could be it,” said her mother Brenda Negrete. “She was in a vegetative state and they said this might be all we would get, and I’d have to decide at that point what we wanted to do with her. It was very scary, but I told them right there I refused to accept that. I knew she was going to get better. I held strong to God and faith.”
Defoor, of Ellijay, was hospitalized when a surgery to replace her pacemaker wires went horribly wrong. Her mom said doctors accidentally tore a major artery in her chest and Defoor started losing blood and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors performed CPR for 30 minutes, but lack of oxygen left her with “global” damage to the brain, and doctors ultimately had to perform open heart surgery to remove the pacemaker.
Defoor has been hospitalized since February 21st and has been at the Shepherd Center for rehabilitation for four weeks.
“She’s been doing really good,” said Negrete. “She’s having some issues with speech, and her hands, they don’t do what she wants sometimes, but she knows who everyone is and she is walking now. She is in good sprits most the time and happy.”
Defoor, a single mom, gets visits from her 10-year-old son Kane that brighten her long days at the hospital.
“He loves to see her, and when he goes it really helps cheer her up,” said Negrete, who along with Defoor’s two sisters help get Kane to school and rotate visiting Cassie at the Shepherd Center.
Defoor has been a deputy with the Pickens County Sheriff’s office for over two years. She started in the local detention center, but was later moved to patrol. Her mother said she has always wanted to be in law enforcement, specifically to work as a patrol deputy. A previous agency she worked with would not let her in the position she wanted to be in most.
“They’d say she’s too little to go on the road,” her mom said. “But Pickens let her, and she loves it. She wanted to help and protect people. She’s a tough girl and has never been scared of anything. She has a great sense of humor and gets along with everybody.”
Defoor’s mom said her coworkers have gone above and beyond, with someone travelling to visit her at least once a week from PSO, and many giving up their own leave time so she could continue to be paid while she is out of work. The Pickens County Sheriff’s office even set up a GoFundMe page that has raised over $21,000. They also keep the community updated with regular social media posts about Defoor’s progress.
“All of us at the Pickens Sheriff’s Office would like to sincerely thank our community, and citizens and law enforcement agencies from across the state, for their continuing support and prayers. God has certainly blessed our family,” they wrote of Defoor in a recent Facebook post.
A former coworker of Defoor’s, who was not able to return to the Pickens Sheriff’s office due to health complications with his radiation treatment, has spearheaded a fundraising campaign through his current employer NAPA. David Taylor, who worked with the PSO from 2008-2016 and was on the board that hired and ran background checks on Defoor, saw an opportunity when NAPA sent out a request for nominations for charities for their “Record Breaking Car Wash Attempt” fundraisers. Defoor’s cause was selected to be recipient of proceeds that will be collected at three of their locations on April 27 (see time and locations below).
“Cassie is sweet, strong willed, and a heck of a deputy in my opinion,” Taylor said. “She’s a fighter. This is the least I could do, because when I was in treatment for 10 months, the Sheriff’s Auxiliary did so much and took care of me like I was family – and the sheriff’s office was like my family.”
Defoor’s mom said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
“The sheriff’s office and the entire Pickens community has been great,” Negrete said. “We’ve had people from the community call and come, and we are so appreciative of everything everyone has done. Cassie loves her Blue Line Family.”
Support Cassie Defoor at three NAPA locations on April 27 beginning at 11 a.m. Locations are: 1385 East Cobb Drive, Marietta; 94 Cobb Parkway North, Marietta; and 5420 Peachtree Industrial, Norcross.
If you would like to volunteer for the car washing event, contact David Taylor at 1-352-215-6179.