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On the evening of May 29, 2007, 14-year-old Frédéric Lamarche headed out on his scooter to pick up a friend. He never arrived. Almost two weeks later, Frédéric woke up in the Intensive Care Unit at The Montreal Children's Hospital...
If there is any program that can earn a hospital a top-notch reputation, it is the trauma program. As a designated provincial pediatric and adolescent trauma centre, and a pediatric neurotrauma centre of excellence, The Children’s is a leader in the field—in Montreal, its surrounding areas and across Quebec.
Line Blanchard and Michel Lamarche learned this firsthand on May 29. That evening, after a head-on collision with a car on an overpass over Highway 20, their son Frédéric was rushed to Charles-LeMoyne Hospital in a state of shock. Given his critical condition and his young age, he was quickly stabilized and transferred to The Children’s, a tertiary pediatric trauma centre.
When he arrived, Frédéric was unrecognizable. He was intubated and strapped to a CPR board, and his head was immobilized. He had sustained multiple fractures—many of them open—and serious head injuries. His left knee, femur, wrist and middle finger were badly cut, and he had a gash on the back of his right thigh so deep that it went right through the muscles. Dr. Jean-Pierre Farmer, pediatric neurosurgeon and Chief of Surgery at The Children's, explained how every minute counted: "When a young patient is in a coma, like Frédéric was, our priority as tertiary intensive care doctors is to stabilize his blood flow and intracranial pressure as soon as we can determine the extent of the injuries. When a patient arrives in Emergency, deciding the order in which to treat the injuries becomes a real race against the clock."
The Department of Anesthesia, the Intensive Care Unit and the various surgical divisions at The Children’s coordinated their expertise to keep Frédéric in a medically induced coma for two weeks, during which time he had three major surgeries. Dr. H. Bruce Williams and Dr. Thierry Benaroch, from Orthopedic Surgery, performed seven hours of plastic surgery to mend Frédéric’s many open fractures. Dr. Farmer and Dr. Marie Lucie Lessard, plastic surgeon, spent more than 11 hours repairing his many skull and facial fractures, and a tear in the dura mater, which was leaking cerebrospinal fluid. "The specialists were very cautious. They didn’t rush anything. But Frédéric responded well to each surgery. It gave us hope," recalls his mother.
Despite the harrowing circumstances that brought them to The Children’s, Frédéric’s parents consider themselves lucky. "I never imagined it was possible to have so many experts under one roof. Frédéric received excellent care," says his mother. As for Frédéric’s father, he was reassured by Dr. Farmer's patience and "infectious" sense of calm. They also appreciated the regular updates on their son’s condition. "We were given up to the minute information. We really appreciated the staff's honesty with us; we were never kept in the dark or made to feel like a nuisance. We were allowed to stay with our son 24 hours a day."
Thirteen days after his accident, Frédéric was brought out of his coma. Since it had been impossible to completely rule out possible neurological damage while Frédéric was still in the coma, his parents worried that he might not recognize them, or even worse, be unable to speak or move. But, to everyone's relief—and his parents' delight—Frédéric asked where he was the minute he woke up! And, only eight weeks after the accident that almost cost him his life (five weeks at The Children's and three weeks at a rehabilitation centre), he was finally able to go home.
Frédéric is still undergoing rigorous physiotherapy and occupational therapy. He has to take medication twice a day to control the diabetes insipidus that he developed after the accident, a common side effect of head trauma. He is scheduled to have more surgeries in the next few months, but these operations will be minor compared to the first three. Does he ever get discouraged? No way! Even though he is very young, Frédéric knows full well that this accident could have been much more serious.
The Trauma Program at The Children’s offers young patients like Frédéric a complete, coordinated range of expert services for all their medical, surgical, nursing, psychosocial and rehabilitation needs. Backed by The Children’s distinctly family-oriented philosophy, it promises the best possible recovery for children and adolescents who have sustained multiple traumas. The Trauma Program is an invaluable facet of the hospital you have come to love and support: The Children's.