In August 2016, Cameron was out riding his bike – helmet and all – when he took a bad fall. A bit shaken, but generally fine, he went home. He told his mom about his tumble, mentioned that his stomach hurt and laid on the couch quietly. This was a bit of a red flag for his mom, as the normally tough six-year-old never complained. Mother’s intuition kicked in and they set off to the Emergency Department at ACH. Cameron began throwing up in the car. Once at ACH, they could see that a mark was forming just about in the spot where the pancreas is. They were whisked into a trauma room for closer examination and an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed there was fluid inside the gut where there shouldn’t be fluid. Bloodwork and a CT scan were next. Unbelievably, the CT showed that not only was Cameron’s pancreas damaged – it was completely transected – cut in half! And as if this wasn’t frightening enough, if the duct was damaged that meant even further complications. The pancreas is a rare organ to damage – occurring in less than 2% of blunt trauma injuries. Pancreatic injuries are also very difficult to diagnose and specialists rely heavily on imaging in order to do so. If a pancreas injuring isn’t caught early – the consequences can be dire, resulting in serious complications or even loss of life. Cameron relied on Ultrasound, CT and MRI to help diagnose and pinpoint the extent of his injury. The surgical plan relied heavily on imaging. In fact, the MRI tech came in to scan Cameron in the middle of the night. Cameron underwent surgery, where Dr. Robin Eccles removed part of the pancreas, over-sewed the duct and put in a drain for the fluid. The surgery was successful but Cameron had a long road to recovery – dealing with pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, pseudocysts (fluid collection) and a special diet – and missed almost half a year of school.
Today, after a very long haul, Cameron is back on track. He even attended bike camp this summer! His mom, Antonia, is an Emergency Department Physician at ACH, and the care they received was so above and beyond – and from people who didn’t even know who she was. She says it takes a very special breed of people to work with kids and their families. And this experience, as horrific as it was, has changed the way she practices medicine.
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