Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Preslee’s Story

This summer, Lara received the call that every mother dreads. Someone from a hospital far away woke her at 6 a.m. to deliver the news that her six-year-old daughter, Preslee, had been seriously injured in a car accident while visiting family near Winston-Salem, N.C. She was taken to the Level I Pediatric Trauma Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health - Brenner Children's Hospital for treatment. Preslee’s injuries were extensive: fractured skull; broken leg, arm and wrist; collapsed lungs; lacerated liver; thoracic vertebra compression fractures; and torn neck ligaments.

While Lara flew from Texas to North Carolina, Dr. Kristen Zeller performed a life-saving emergency bedside surgery on Preslee’s abdomen a few hours after she arrived in the hospital. Once Lara arrived at Brenner Children's, she was told Preslee was unconscious and on a ventilator to breathe. They had to take it one hour at a time.

Over the next few weeks, Preslee received several more surgeries to repair her broken bones, along with the full care of the pediatric trauma staff for her other injuries. After almost a month at Brenner Children's, Preslee began to heal and was able to travel home with her mother. She received follow up care at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. After only four months, Preslee is out of her casts, neck brace and other protective gear, including her wheelchair, and has started first grade. Although Preslee and her family still have some healing to do, her recovery has been stellar and she has even resumed gymnastics!

Preslee’s success is due in large part to the highly-skilled and prepared pediatric trauma health care providers that were available at an American College of Surgeon’s certified Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, one of only 42 in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What is Pediatric Trauma?

Welcome to the second official post of the “Saving Injured Kids” blog. We thought it was important to first define the issue as we understand it now. Through weekly postings, we will continue to bring fresh perspectives from nurses, doctors, emergency medical professionals, patients and their families, and others involved in the care of injured children.

Pediatric trauma is life-threatening injury to children and it’s the number one killer of children in America, more than all other causes combined. These injuries require hospitalization, and usually emergency surgery.
Important facts about pediatric trauma:
  • 9,523 children die from traumatic injuries every year – that’s one child every hour
  • 175,149 injured children were hospitalized in 2011
  • Nonfatal hospitalized injuries result in annual cost of over $24 billion
  • Federal research dollars spent:
    • $17 on cancer
    • $7 on diabetes 
    • $4 on heart disease
    • $0.18 on childhood injury        
  • Only 42 Level I pediatric trauma centers currently verified by the American College of Surgeons – this is the highest and best level of care a child can receive when they are injured
      It can happen to any child, anywhere at any time, and there is no time to travel long distances to the “best” place for care. Chances of survival are greatest if prompt, well-trained medical treatment is received within a short period of time after a severe injury. Statistics show that an injured child has a 25% better chance of surviving if they are treated at a trauma center. Caring for an injured child requires special knowledge, precise management and scrupulous attention to detail.  
Surviving pediatric trauma can also be difficult. Effects can potentially change the physical and mental ability of a child for the rest of their lives, as well as resulting emotional and social issues that affect parents, siblings and other family members, friends, educators, future employers and many other people throughout life.

Pediatric trauma is a serious health issue that is being addressed through prevention, but there are many ways to save the lives of injured children from the moment they are hurt by improving the education and techniques of first responders, nurses, doctors, surgeons and other medical staff.

We are passionate about preventing the death of children once they are injured. We hope to drastically reduce the number of children that die each year from pediatric trauma by increasing research, education and awareness about the issue. Please help us spread the message and join us each week to learn more.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saving Injured Kids by Dr. J. Wayne Meredith

I’ve spent my professional life as a trauma surgeon. Sewing up holes, trying to put the bodies back together of people who’ve been damaged in some way by physical energy. Sometimes that’s a bullet. Sometimes it’s a knife. Sometimes it’s a fist and most commonly it’s a fall or a car crash. The ways people hurt themselves and the ways people get hurt are truly amazing in terms of the variety and the severity. It’s also shocking to see the devastation that occurs to families upon the loss of someone they love from a severe injury, especially if that someone is their child. It’s inspiring to see how determinedly and desperately people fight to stay alive, to restore their life, to find meaning in the world after major injuries have occurred.

I’ve spent my life fighting this. Trying to minimize the effect of these injuries on countless, literally thousands and thousands of patients. Today, injury is still the number one killer of our children in the United States of America. It’s more than are dying from cancer. It’s more than are dying from infectious diseases. In fact, more children die from injuries than from everything else combined. It devastates me.

I talk about this to people all over the place and they’re always amazed when I quote that simple statistic. More of our children will die this year from injuries than all other causes put together. They commonly ask follow up questions. “What is the most common cause?” I answer that it depends on the age group. Toddlers have home accidents. Teenagers have car crashes. Kids in their teens and beyond die from intentional violence and suicide, very commonly and very tragically.

They ask, “What are we doing about this as a country?” I say, in terms of treatment, the strategy for preventing these deaths is 1) to prevent the injuries from occurring in the first place and 2) to prevent deaths after the injuries occur by improving the trauma care these patients receive. We need to be working on all of those fronts. We need to be working to raise public awareness of the problem so that people everywhere in our country can get behind whatever solutions we can find to solve this problem.

One of the best solutions, and one I advocate for, is the development of better trauma systems for children in the U.S. It is the best way to reduce the number of deaths from injury that we know of today in the medical world. In fact, if people could think of trauma systems as a vaccine or as a treatment, such as chemotherapy for treating cancer, they would be up in arms over the inconsistency of the trauma systems that exist in our nation. Everyone would be outraged over the tiny amount of support that comes from our public policy makers to support trauma systems for our children.

I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep sewing up the holes, but we’ll never stop this problem by sewing up the holes alone. 


We are launching this blog to raise awareness about the issue of pediatric trauma, and create a forum to discuss how children are injured and receive medical treatment. Our mission is to support research, education and awareness for improving the medical care children receive when they are injured.

The goal of the blog is to educate people that love or care for children about ways that we can all improve the medical care of injured children. We hope you will learn more about the No. 1 killer of children in America, share this information with others, and help us save the lives of injured kids.

Thank you for your support!