Caltong's Story, Part One: Surviving the First Hour
"The entire front wall of his chest was completely crushed," said Rachael Callcut, MD, the pediatric trauma surgeon who treated Caltong in the emergency department. "He was having a great deal of difficulty breathing."
When he arrived soon after the accident on April 14, 2012, a team of about 12 pediatric trauma specialists quickly worked to stabilize Caltong. Nearby, physicians treated his father, Yuming Liu, also hit by the car but less hurt.
The first challenge was helping Caltong breathe. His ribs were broken in so many places that his chest wall did not expand when he tried to inhale, and both lungs were badly bruised.
"With that much bruising, the lungs become very heavy, wet and hard to inflate," Callcut said. A pediatric respiratory therapist helped re-inflate Caltong's collapsed left lung and put him on a respirator to ensure he got enough oxygen. The team also transfused blood and gave medications for his wavering blood pressure.
It took nearly an hour to stabilize Caltong enough for a CT scan that showed the full extent of his injuries. In addition to the rib fractures, there were two breaks in his jaw. The bone around his right eye, one vertebra, his right collarbone and his left hip also broke, for a total of 20 fractures in 17 bones. He had a small brain bleed, his liver and spleen were bruised, and a bad burn encircled his lower left leg.
The fact that Caltong made it through the first precarious minutes in Stanford's Emergency Department and progressed to a full recovery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is a testament to the skill of the Stanford/Packard Children's pediatric trauma team and their seamless integration with the wide spectrum of pediatric specialists at Packard Children's.
"In his first hour, if he had been at a lot of other hospitals, he would not have survived," Callcut said.
But he was alive and, after the first touch-and-go hour, was stable enough to move to the pediatric intensive care unit at Packard Children's. "He received a very high level of expertise in a short period of time," Callcut said. "That can really change someone's outcome."
Read part two of Caltong's story
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