One moment, 15-year-old Francesco “Chicco” Adamo was kayaking on a San Mateo lagoon with his father, Filippo. The next, he was fighting for his life, being transported to Stanford Health Care’s Emergency Department where the Level 1 pediatric trauma team performed multiple, simultaneous surgeries to treat severe wounds inflicted by a motor boat that crashed into his kayak.
When life is turned upside down in an instant, what does a family need? In a Stanford Children's Health story, pediatric experts explained the incredible coordination between medical teams that saved Chicco’s life:
'This definitely wasn’t a case you see every day,' said Stephen Shew, MD, the pediatric trauma surgeon who helped lead the emergency response to resuscitate Chicco and assess his most urgent needs. 'But it’s exactly what we are trained for. When every second and every decision can impact the outcome, we have an extraordinary team of experts here who work simultaneously to triage the most critical areas of care.'
Chicco’s father, Filippo, endured the shock of witnessing the accident itself and arrived at the ER, still soaking wet from jumping into the lagoon to retrieve his injured son. And Chicco’s mother, Debra Scott, was traveling out of the country on business when the accident occurred:
'It’s the phone call that you never want to get as a parent,' said Scott. 'It was devastating and very frightening, not knowing if what I was being told by my family over the phone was for my protection, because I was so far away. The not knowing was very difficult. I just got on the first flight I could.'
Apart from the emergency and critical care response and the ongoing multidisciplinary treatment needed in a case like Chicco’s, given the suddenness of such an accident, there is also a vital network of support in place for families who face a serious, life-changing event.
At first, they need help coming to terms with the initial shock of what happened to their child. Later, they must navigate long-term psychological considerations such as post-traumatic stress disorder and how to transition back into “normal life” of work and school when rehabilitation requirements take a front seat.
Aside from the care provided, recovering from such injuries required enormous effort and fortitude from the patient himself. Chicco impressed everyone with his determination to get himself out of the hospital. His therapy is ongoing and he is slowly returning to attending classes at school as he builds back his strength.
Photo courtesy of the Adamo family