UAB patient receives a ‘million-dollar’ surprise following treatment


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Members of the Million Dollar Band took a break from Iron Bowl prep Tuesday to surprise a superfan. Britney Thomas is from Huntsville but has been traveling to Birmingham to UAB Hospital for medical treatments.

She survived two strokes, four years ago at the age of 14, which left her unable to speak. However, Thomas found her voice again a few months ago when David Lowe, her nurse at the Russell Clinic, was wearing an Alabama Shirt. Thomas shouted, “Roll Tide!” when she saw it from across the room.

“Britney is a hard worker she was able to get through a lot,” Lowe said. “She’s had a horrible thing happen but she’s very upbeat and it’s just great. You see someone that it could bring her down and she doesn’t let it.”

Thomas has Aphasia from her strokes and has been visiting Lowe so he can administer Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment to help with her recovery. His daughter, Dakota, plays piccolo in the Million Dollar Band.

“I’m just glad to make someone’s day, someone’s life – it’s great,” Dakota said.

Dakota helped to arrange a handful of band members to surprise Thomas after her final treatment with her father. It was announced at band practice and, the next thing she knew, 40 band members volunteered time during their fall break to surprise her.

“I am so incredibly thankful and grateful for all of these people that are here behind me,” Dakota said. “I just love every single one of them so much for doing this not just for me but Britney.”

The Million Dollar Band gifted Thomas her own shako, a memento from Tuesday’s surprise.

“To see another teenager her age want to do something like this for her and get this together, it means the world to us,” Britney’s mother Melinda Thomas said. “There was a point throughout all of this that we didn’t think she would be here. We didn’t know she would be walking, talking, anything.”

Melinda said Britney was born with a cluster of vessels in her brain that ruptured twice. She said all her treatments have helped her get her feeling and vision back on her right side. In August, the Thomas family learned there is no more chance of Britney ever having another rupture.

“She’s still got a long way to go but we’re going to get there,” Melinda said.

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