As Christian LaChance, 11, gears up for a normal summer, his father watches carefully with a sense of relief and gratefulness. David LaChance nearly lost his son earlier this year after an accident following a dangerous game Christian played with his brother, Corey.
Christian was saved by the experience and care of doctors at Tufts Medical Center.
“I feel like we had a lot of angels,” David says. “I felt like my son was in the right place. I felt that if he was going to have a chance, it was going to be right there.”
Airlifted to Boston
The game started in the back yard while David, a carpenter for the Brockton School System, and his wife, Janet, were out to dinner. The boys’ older brother was inside the house. The younger brothers started throwing a heavy rock to see who could toss it further.
Christian ran to get out of the way but the rock landed on his head. At first, it seemed to be just a glancing blow. When his parents came home, his older brother suggested that they keep a close eye on him. Christian played video games and seemed fine for a few hours. Then he collapsed in the bathroom.
Within minutes the EMTs were at the house and quickly realized that the injury was too serious for the local hospitals to handle. They called for a helicopter that landed on the Brockton fair grounds to take Christian and his mother into Boston. A nurse on board directed the helicopter to Tufts Medical Center where Neurosurgeon-in-Chief Carl Heilman, MD, was on call. Heilman has been ranked in the top 1 percent of his specialty by Castle Connolly and U.S. News and World Report.
Rushed into surgery
While his son and wife flew to Tufts MC, a friend of David’s drove him to the hospital where he was quickly welcomed by staff from the Emergency Department. As Christian was rushed through imaging and into the operating room, nurses and doctors took the time to explain to his parents what was happening. Staff found them a room in the hospital so they stay close to their son.
“It meant the world to me that I didn’t have to worry about paying for a hotel and I didn’t have to worry about where to park my car,” David says. “They told us, ‘We don’t want you to worry about anything. We just want you to be there for your son.’”
There was plenty for David and Janet to worry about.
Christian had a life-threatening epidural hematoma, a build up of blood between the tough outer membrane of the central nervous system and the skull. It is not uncommon for a patient to appear normal immediately after this sort of injury as the bleeding may begin slowly, explains Dr. Heilman.
“However, with this sort of injury, time is of the essence,” he says. “It is vital to remove the epidural as quickly as possible.”
Christian was in surgery for five hours.
“It seemed like forever and the whole time, the staff kept giving us reports on what was going on. That made us feel more comfortable,” David says.
Boston Bruins decor aids healing
After the surgery, Christian was kept sedated for two days to allow for healing. His parents were able to stay with him at the hospital the entire time. He awoke in the Intensive Care Unit but was quickly taken to a room adorned with Boston Bruins hockey memorabilia. It was the perfect setting for Christian, who is an avid hockey player.
“He couldn’t believe it, he thought that was fantastic,” David says. “I think it made it easier for him to handle being in the hospital.”
Christian healed quickly with no complications following the surgery. He was soon able to return home.
David says he is amazed not only with the medical care his son received but also with how friendly and helpful the doctors, nurses and other staff were.
“They made the worst moment in my life tolerable,” he says.
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