15-year-old Alex spent far too much time at the ACH last year! Last January, while playing hockey in a tournament, he took a really hard hit above the knee from a big player from the other team. The pain was agony and Alex’s mom drove him to the ACH where he was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome. The blow to his leg had brought on the dangerous condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells. Alex had surgery that night called a fasciotomy – where Dr. Goldstein made an incision and cut open the skin and fascia covering Alex’s thigh. The swelling was so severe that the incision had to be kept open, drained regularly and slowly closed over a series of surgeries. The pressure was so bad that he over-bled and needed two blood transfusions. He was in hospital that time for four weeks.
A month after he was discharged from hospital, Alex was back in with a life-threatening condition called Rhabdomyolysis. It was caused by that initial hit to Alex’s leg and a breakdown of the damaged skeletal muscle occured. Muscle breakdown causes the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is the protein that stores oxygen in your muscles. If you have too much myoglobin in your blood, it can cause kidney damage – which was what was happening. Alex was admitted to the PICU where doctors attempted to control the condition with medications and fluids – however, a large blood clot formed and made the condition even more complicated to treat. They managed to get it under control, but Alex has had several more hospital admissions because of Rhabdomyolysis since. It’s something they keep a serious eye on.
In August, Alex was happy to be back on the ice and playing hockey once again, but in a cruel twist of fate, he was hit again and knocked down. The pain of this hit was even worse than the first one months ago. The game was stopped and Alex walked off the ice. It wasn’t until he removed his right elbow pad he saw a huge amount of blood pooling in the pad. A skate blade had cut him though the tiny gap in the pad. He was rushed to the ACH once again, by ambulance this time – he couldn’t feel or move his hand. After examinations and x-rays, a Plastic Surgeon named Dr. Rob Harrop came into the exam room and explained that Alex’s tricep muscle had been cut and his ulna nerve had been 90% severed. He said it was a miracle that it was literally hanging on by a thread. He would do surgery that night to repair it and hopefully restore feeling and function. Today, the feeling is slowly coming back in Alex’s hand and nearly all function.
Alex says Dr. Harrop is his hero. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.” Alex says he saw Dr. Harrop in a restaurant one night and was in tears because he was using chopsticks with his right hand – and it was all because of Dr. Harrop.
© 2018 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.