Helpless. That is how many parents feel when they have a sick or injured child. For Jennifer Fake of Lewistown helpless was how she felt when her daughter was severely injured after being hit by a vehicle.
While walking with her siblings and an older cousin near the road in front of her house, Georgia, 7, was struck by car traveling about 55 mph.
Jennifer was in the house doing housework when she heard the collision.
“It sounded like an aerosol can popping in a fire,” Jennifer said of the sound of Georgia being struck by the car and thrown 30 feet into a utility pole.
Georgia was injured badly, with fractures to her left femur, her pelvis and a laceration on the left side of her forehead.
“When I came out to her side, she was moaning,” Jennifer said. “I would say her name and she would just moan.”
Georgia was taken to her local community hospital and then immediately was transported by Life Flight® helicopter to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Georgia’s injuries demanded immediate attention. By the time Jennifer and family members arrived at the hospital, the team of doctors had already evaluated her.
“They told me she was stable but her injuries were very traumatic,” Jennifer said. “They let me in to see her right away before her surgery, even though she was sedated.”
The team of doctors caring for Georgia was astounded by the extent of her injuries.
“It was one of the worst trauma’s I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Meagan Fernandez, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon. “It takes a lot of force to cause a femur fracture. It is the largest bone in the body and for it to break it takes a lot of energy. We typically don’t see injuries like that in her age group. One of my trauma partners who assisted, Dr. Dan Horowitz, said it was the worst he had seen as well.”
She was in surgery for almost four hours to repair her femur and pelvis. One of the fractures in Georgia’s leg was on a growth plate, which caused Dr. Fernandez concern.
“Pediatric surgery is a little more difficult because the growth plates are still open,” Dr. Fernandez said. “When you have a fracture of your growth plate, like Georgia had, it can either stop growing, causing that leg to be shorter than the other, or overgrow causing that leg to be longer.”
Georgia stayed 10 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital recovering from her surgery.
“I stayed in the room with her,” Jennifer said. “My girls, my aunt and my mom would come and go, while she was in. The hospital staff took care of us really well and Dr. Fernandez checked on her constantly.”
Georgia’s femur and pelvis fractures healed very well and the hardware used to fix her fractures was removed last June.
Georgia’s recovery has been a long one and the accident did cause some permanent damage to her leg. Overall Georgia progressed nicely from a wheelchair to a walker to eventually just a cane.
“She has a residual foot drop that was secondary from the trauma from the impact of the car,” Dr. Fernandez said.
“She walks on her own at this point,” Jennifer said. “But she uses a brace when she is going to be walking long distances.”
Along with some of the equipment used during Georgia’s surgery and comfort items in her hospital room, like recliners and televisions, Children’s Miracle Network funding has allowed the pediatric orthopedic department to hire a Child Life Specialist, which has made a remarkable difference in the care of patients, Dr. Fernandez said.
“The Child Life Specialist changes the way we treat and care for patients,” she said. “The position has really improved the services that we offer. With the specialist, we can do many things with children as young as two.”
In Georgia’s case, the Child Life Specialist stopped by during some of her appointments with distraction items, such as games or an IPad, to make her visit more enjoyable and pleasant.
For Dr. Fernandez, Georgia’s case is a memorable one and she is overjoyed to see her doing so well.
“She is a sweet, shy little girl,” Dr. Fernandez said. “When we removed her hardware, we took the plate out of her pelvis and the rods out of her leg and gave them to her. She made the plate into a necklace.”
Georgia had lost the necklace at school and was pretty upset about it during one of her visits to see Dr. Fernandez. On her next visit, Dr. Fernandez had a little surprise for Georgia.
“We got her a new plate and made it into a necklace for her,” Dr. Fernandez said.
Georgia wore the new necklace proudly while attending a luncheon for Miracle Kids in Danville.