Thursday, April 05, 2012
Miraculous Recovery of Boy Struck by Lightning
Trauma physicians and staff see young patient through near-death experience
Cassie Williams Jones
VCU Communications and Public Relations
804 828 7028
In 2009, there were 34 U.S. fatalities from lightning strikes,
according to the National Weather Service. Ten-year old Jonathon Colson
wasn’t one of them.
Thanks to the rapid care of the Virginia
Commonwealth University Health System and trauma team, Colson is now a
healthy, happy 13-year-old living a regular life.
though, does not describe this young boy’s dramatic experience. Two
years ago, Colson was playing a game with his baseball team when he was
struck by lightning.
Colson was in full cardiac arrest,
pulseless and not breathing. A bystander, who happened to be an
emergency nurse, administered CPR until the emergency medical services
team arrived. His heart did not resume beating until he was on the way
to the VCU Medical Center, where he arrived more than 40 minutes after
VCU’s trauma and pediatrics teams were ready for
Colson once he arrived and immediately began assessing his condition and
treating him. His family stayed with him, bedside in the room, as the
physicians and nurses worked tirelessly to care for him.
minutes, the team had run several scans and X-rays to analyze his heart
rate and rhythm and to ensure his lungs were oxygenating properly. The
lightning strike left entrance and exit wound injuries, which could
affect these vital organs and compromise his survival.
stabilized, Colson was taken to the pediatric intensive care unit, where
he was placed on a ventilator, and underwent brain cooling protocol
treatments. The physicians closely monitored the fluid collecting on his
brain, which was causing pressure. A team of neurosurgeons opened his
skull to allow the brain to swell, which lessened potential damage and
increased his chances of returning to his usual self.
temperature became normal after the operation, but he remained
unresponsive for days. But after much concern and treatment, he
eventually regained consciousness and became responsive. In less than a
month of being in the VCU Medical Center, Colson was discharged and
began intensive rehabilitation therapies.
“Words cannot express
how we feel about the trauma program and staff at VCU,” said Judy
Colson, mother of Jonathan. “The doctors and staff did an exceptional
job with him, and I’m very thankful they kept trying new things and
never gave up on Jonathan.”
In only two years, Colson has made
remarkable progress, and has even made appearances at trauma symposiums
and events. His family is forever grateful to the teams who saw them
through the most frightening event of their lives.
the doctor's weren't really sure of Jonathan's outcome, they never made
me feel as if we were going to lose him. I thank God for the VCU trauma
program,” said Jonathan’s mother.
Celebrating the VCU Health
System's trauma program’s 30th anniversary, the program hosted its
annual Shining Knight Trauma Gala on Saturday, a fundraising event to
recognize care providers and increase awareness of the Central Virginia
Trauma System and the VCU Medical Center's trauma and injury and
violence prevention programs. Colson’s story was featured.
honoring those that participated in the care of one severely injured
patient, it exemplifies the work all care providers do - from
pre-hospital through acute care in the hospital on to rehabilitation -
and demonstrates that it truly takes a team to put an injured person
back as a productive member of society," said Ajai Malhotra, M.D.,
professor of surgery and vice chair of the VCU Division of Trauma.
event was well-attended and raised more than $60,000 in sponsorships
this year. All proceeds support injury and violence prevention programs.
Jonathan spoke at the end of the night, thanking the “Shining Knights”
who helped him survive his unique incident.
"I know the event that happened to me is just an obstacle that I have
to get around," said Jonathan. "I am in gratitude to my fantastic team
of doctors, my supporting friends and family, and most of all, God, for
letting me prosper through my obstacle."
The VCU Medical Center
had more than 3,600 trauma admissions in 2011. Patients are admitted
into the trauma center for a variety of reasons, including vehicle
crashes, falls, burns and intentional injuries.
program was re-verified nationally by the American College of Surgeons
this past year, and it serves as the headquarters for the Pan American
Trauma Society, the lead organization for the advancement of trauma care
systems in the Americas.
Almost a year after Jonathan’s incident, VCU Health System and the
Children’s Hospital joined to become Children’s Hospital of Richmond,
increasing access to enhanced, comprehensive pediatric care to other
young patients and their families.
The VCU Health System is one
of only two nationally recognized Level I Trauma Centers in the state
and is the only one in central Virginia. Virginia recognizes five Level I
Trauma Centers in the state, including the VCUHS. The VCU Health System
was the first hospital in Virginia to be recognized after the
introduction of the state verification process in 1981.