Fast action by many saves child’s life

Goose-eggs from a bump on the head are so common they seem to be a childhood rite of passage.

These injuries are minor and often heal on their own.  But when a head injury is more than a bump, it’s important to get the injured person to the hospital as fast as possible.

Cisco and Louise Torres of Watseka faced that scary scenario recently when their 12-year-old daughter Jessica Duhoski wrecked her bike.

"Jessica flew over the handle bars and hit her head. She wasn't wearing a helmet. She came into the house after the accident," Louise said. "We watched her closely, and when we saw her having trouble walking, we took her immediately to the nearest emergency room."

"A CT scan showed Jessica had a brain bleed," her mother continued. "When that result came back, the Iroquois Memorial Hospital staff made her stable and immediately made plans to fly her to Carle for emergency surgery."

John Wang, MD, neurosurgeon at Carle, explained, "Epidural hematoma is a blood buildup between the skull and the outer membrane. When the brain bleeds, there's nowhere for the blood to go, and it starts pushing the brain out of position. Fifteen to 20 percent of these injuries are fatal."

As the helicopter flew Jessica to Carle, her parents drove almost 70 miles from Watseka to Urbana.

"That was a long drive," Louise said.

Jessica was unconscious when she got to Carle. The trauma team started treating her on the elevator ride down from the helicopter pad.

"We were ready for her, and it was a total team effort. Jessica was in surgery 16 minutes after the chopper landed," said Mary Beth Voights, NP, trauma coordinator for Carle's Level I Trauma Center.

Jessica needed every minute.

"They told me Jessica was near death when she got to Carle," Louise said. "Doctors operated on her, and it was touch-and-go overnight.

“But she pulled through, and we are very grateful."

Dr. Wang performed Jessica's surgery.

"We made a small hole in her skull to drain the blood. This reduced the pressure on Jessica's brain and allowed her to heal," he said.

If someone you know hits his or her head, watch for these serious signs:

  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Weakness in hands, arms, feet and legs
  • Loss of field of vision

"Many times the patient is conscious and lucid immediately after the injury, and the symptoms show up later. That's why people need to act fast once they notice symptoms," Dr. Wang said.

Jessica is out of danger and going to rehab appointments two times a week. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

What do Jessica's parents want everyone to remember?

"If your child bumps their head and something doesn't seem right, get to the emergency room right away.”