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A True Miracle

  • Author: Scott Copes
  • Date Submitted: May 29, 2019
  • Category: 2019

The Copes family- Joseph and Sheila, Ashley, 18, Hayley, 13, and Scott, 11- enjoy spending time together.

"We enjoying camping and barbecuing," Joseph and Sheila say. "We volunteer together at the soup kitchen once a month. Family time is really important to us."

Last year, on the evening of April 24, a freak accident occurred in the Copes' home that has made them even more grateful for the time they have together.

"The kids were getting ready for bed," Joseph recalls. "Sheila and I had just come inside from the backyard when we heard a loud noise. We didn't think much about it initially because those things happen with three kids in the house. Then, we heard Scott holler."

The Copes rushed through the house to find Scott stumbling out of his bedroom, clutching his left arm at the armpit. He was covered in blood.

"I had just got out of the shower and I heard a noise at my window and went to investigate," Scott recalls. "I leaned on the window and it broke. I fell into it and that's how it cut me."

Adrenaline took over as the family sprang into action to help Scott. He was losing blood— quickly.

"We saw him in a puddle of blood," Sheila says. "Joseph's military training took over and he took him to the living room to lay him on a hard surface. I was frantic. We scrambled to get towels to help with all the blood. My girls called 9-1-1. It was a blur, but I remember looking at him and seeing the life drain out of him. I just knew I was going to lose him."

"I knew I couldn't stop the bleeding, but I had to slow it down," Joseph adds. "My hand and a towel were literally inside of Scott as I applied pressure to his wound. He was coming in and out of consciousness and I was slapping him on the leg to keep him awake. When he was awake he was yelling at me because he could feel my hand inside his body and it hurt."

Scott, who was 10 at the time of the accident, was worried he might die.

The paramedics showed up and quickly went to work treating Scott. He was transported to Shannon where he and his family met the on-call surgeon, Kenny Jastrow, III, MD.

"I received a call from our Communications Center about a young kid cutting his arm," Dr. Jastrow recalls. "On my way to Shannon, I called our house supervisor and mobilized our OR team. When I entered the ER, I could hear the urgency in everyone's voice. Then, I saw a lifeless-looking little boy in room three."

Dr. Jastrow revealed Scott's injury pattern was one of the worst he has ever seen.

"He was very stoic which surprised me, because I knew he was in a lot of distress" Dr. Jastrow says. "He severed his left axilla and the main artery to his left arm. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood. We held pressure on his artery while our OR team was getting ready. We also began resuscitating him with blood products."

Valerie Manning, RN, Shannon ER, will never forget seeing Scott in the ER.

"We take every trauma very seriously, but the atmosphere is even more intense in the ER when the patient is a child," Valerie says. "He was in the ER for a very short time before being sent to the OR. It happened very quickly."

Valerie is thankful for the training she, and other nurses throughout Shannon, receive to prepare them for situations like Scott's.

"You never know what's going to come through those doors," she says. "We receive specialized training from Children's Miracle Network including PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support). These trainings prepare you to think on your feet and react appropriately which is vital when providing this type of care."

Once in the OR, Dr. Jastrow and his team assessed the level of Scott's injury.

"He had a complete transection of his axillary artery and his left arm was without blood supply," Dr. Jastrow says. "We needed to stop the bleeding from the injury and also reestablish the flow to his arm. We were able to find the two ends of the artery and bring them together. Scott also suffered damage to his ulnar nerve which had to be repaired so he could move his left arm."

The amount of blood Scott lost made the operation very hectic.

"When you're dealing with a trauma, you have to remain calm and in control," Dr. Jastrow says. "Scott is alive because of the care he received before he got to the hospital and after. After the operation, we used a Doppler to listen to the blood flow at the end of his wrist. It was very encouraging to hear his pulse reestablish there. It's definitely a team effort and I'm proud of our hospital and our team. We were able to save Scott and his arm."

Dr. Jastrow told the Copes family the 72 hours after Scott's surgery were critical. He also told them there was potential for future surgeries due to the nature of his injury.
"He was really upfront with us and also caring," Joseph says. "He and the paramedics got to Scott quickly and saved his life."

After surgery, Scott spent several days in the ICU before moving to the Pediatrics Unit at the Shannon Women's & Children's Hospital.

"When I finally got to see him, I knew it was Scott, but it didn't look like him," Sheila says. "I was worried something else would happen. I watched the nurses work and they were incredible. While he was in the ICU, Scott looked at me and said, 'Mama, I could actually feel my body leaving. I thought I was dying and leaving everybody.' That killed me."

Fortunately, Scott did well in the first stages of his recovery and was able to go home with instructions from Dr. Jastrow to keep a check on his pulse at his wrist and elbow. After several days of being home, Sheila noticed something wasn't right.

"I reached for his hand and it was ice cold and his fingertips were purple," she says. "We immediately called Dr. Jastrow's office and took him to the hospital."

An ultrasound found a blood clot in Scott's arm. The clot dissolved with medication, but returned several days later and was larger in size. At this time, Dr. Jastrow made the call to send Scott to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth for specialized pediatric care. Scott flew in the helicopter by himself and Joseph and Sheila drove.

"Flying in the helicopter was fun and scary at the same time," Scott says. "I felt a little sick, but they gave me medicine to help. After I got to Cook's I had several more surgeries and stayed there for two weeks."

A stent was used to blast the clot in Scott's arm, but it did not move. A bypass was performed which removed a vein from his left leg and placed it in his left arm. Since this surgery, Scott has not had any complications.

"We still keep an eye on his pulses," Sheila says. "We were worried about him losing his hand due to the lack of blood flow, but thank God that didn't happen. We still want his arm and hand to continue to grow."

Scott's injuries have required extensive therapy on his arm and hand. Shelby Farmer, PT at Shannon, worked with Scott after his first surgery.

"He couldn't lift his arm or move his hand," she says. "We worked on strength, mobility and range of motion throughout 12 weeks of therapy. We tried to make it fun for him. He worked hard and liked to stay engaged during our therapy sessions and at home, too. A huge benefit to his recovery was the support he received from his parents."

After a checkup earlier this year, Scott was still having issues with the use of his hand.

"He is still having weakness in his pinkie and wedding ring finger," Sheila says. "He also has lack of feeling in his hand. He will have to see a neurologist if these problems persist."

"We are also looking at another surgery when he's older to extend the vein since he is still growing," Joseph says. "It's going to be an ongoing process for him as he grows up."

Now, more than a year after his accident, Scott is back to playing football at recess and enjoying science class.

"I haven't been in the hospital in over a year," he says. "I am glad I survived."

The Copes are grateful this terrifying incident is behind them and are appreciative for the care their son received.

"Scott is a miracle because there's no reason he should be here right now," Joseph says. "He almost bled to death in my arms. We couldn't have asked for better care from the paramedics, nurses and doctors at Shannon. They saved our son's life. God had his hand on us and him that day."