Topeka (WIBW) - The fact that little Landon Karcz is celebrating his first Thanksgiving with parents Jessica and Tom is nothing short of a miracle.
January 30th, the Karcz left their Salina home, headed for ESPN Game Day festivities in Manhattan before the K-State / KU game. On the road was a fresh blanket of snow.
Jessica says she and Tom are usually strict about wearing their seatbelts, but, that day, she had climbed in the back seat to wrap gifts for a late family holiday gathering. She says Tom told her to put on her seatbelt and she told him she'd get to it in a minute.
But a minute was all it took. Tom says the vehicle got a half tire off-center onto some ice. It pulled them off the road and sent them like a sling shot into a field. The vehicle rolled three times. Jessica, with no seat belt, was thrown out of the car. Tom, with his seatbelt on, was not injured at all.
Jessica suffered a fractured skull, fingers, collarbone and ribs. But her main concern was that she was five months pregnant at the time. With the severity of her injuries and the risk to her unborn child, Jessica was flown to Stormont-Vail in Topeka, where their trauma team was put into action.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Matthew Wills says the emergency room will get advance warning from responders in the field. That will send a special alert to the trauma surgeon so they're ready to stabilize injuries. A neurosurgeon and other specialists would be the next call.
Stormont has a neurosurgeon on call 24/7. Dr. Wills was there when Jessica came in. He says she had an obvious skull fracture and the vein that drains most of the blood from the brain was compressed by skull fragments. That meant the blood could get in but not out, so the pressure builds and it can cause irreparable harm.
Jessica was rushed to emergency surgery, the team attending, not just to her, but the baby as well. Dr. Wills says the pregnancy dictated what medications could be given and created two sets of vital signs to monitor. It was like considering two people with every decision you make, he said.
Jessica pulled through surgery and doctors saw no reason to deliver her baby early. She spent two weeks at Stormont - time she still doesn't remember - followed by five weeks at Madonna Rehab in Lincoln, Nebraska. Follow up surgeries on her hand and to put an artificial replacement piece in her skull were put off because of the pregnancy, but she went through speech and physical therapy, until the ultimate accomplishment in June. Baby Landon was born completely healthy.
Dr. Wills credits all the players who work in and support Stormont's trauma unit. From administration, to doctors and nurses, to CT techs who have special training to read the studies, he says it's a lot of people making a lot of effort, and Jessica's story is a good example of why Stormont would commit to do that.
The Karcz won't argue. After all, they say, Landon is living proof.