14:53 PM

Pediatric team saves a life

It was a beautiful summer evening on the east side of the mountains and those who were traveling to a family gathering had no idea about the tragedy soon to occur. Suddenly there were screams from the back of a pickup truck and a young man named Dylan was lying on the ground, having fallen out of the truck. He wasn’t responding to any attempts by family to arouse him as everyone waited, hearing sirens on the horizon.

In the rural emergency department (ER) where Dylan was first brought, they noted his continued unresponsiveness and a pupil that was dilated. There was minimal bleeding but his face was swelling. Everyone understood the significance of the injury and that any chance of survival would depend on Dylan being transported to a higher level of care at Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC).

Transportation by ground would have been almost two hours, but the A.L.E.R.T. flight team picked up this young man and landed in Kalispell 28 minutes later. It saved his life.

The diagnosis was quickly determined: severe traumatic brain injury after falling from a moving pickup truck. The only chance of survival was an immediate craniotomy. If not done there would be permanent irreversible brain damage.

The neurological exam on the first day after surgery was very poor. But over the next 10 days there was aggressive critical care management by the pediatric intensivists, nursing staff, pediatric neurosurgeon and the pediatric general surgeon.

Twelve days later, Dylan opened his eyes and squeezed the nurse’s hand when asked to do so. A few days after that, his cranial bone flap was replaced because the swelling of his brain had stopped. Nineteen days after being admitted to KRMC
 and undergoing an emergent craniotomy, with a very poor prognosis to live, he was transferred to a rehab facility to continue treatment.

Dylan was discharged following four weeks in rehab. Forty-eight days after his injury he walked back into the office of Kelly Schmidt, MD, the pediatric neurosurgeon who initially cared for him. He knows the date, can do simple math, laughs and uses his iPhone. He does have slightly slurred speech but is alive and was able to give thanks and receive hugs. With a feeling of incredible gratitude and appreciation for all that was done for this patient, his family readily agreed to share the story but asked that we not use Dylan’s full name.

His survival was so time-sensitive that any additional time spent along the journey from his fall out of the pickup truck to rehabilitation might have been the end of his young life.

Today when critically ill or injured pediatric patients come to the ER at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, their families will find highly trained pediatric specialists to provide care and treatment to children in Montana. Dylan remained close to home because he was treated in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and attended to by a pediatric intensivist and a pediatric neurosurgeon at KRMC.

Changing lives through philanthropy

The reality of the care provided by this nonprofit hospital is that it would not be possible without philanthropy.

Philanthropy gives our community the latest lifesaving equipment, improved facilities and access to highly trained medical professionals. Philanthropic support assures the tradition of excellent health care will continue for our patients and their families for future generations.

When you contribute to the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation, you have a unique opportunity to make a direct impact on the delivery of health care in our community.