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A Life Saved - A Dream Preserved

A Life Saved  - A Dream Preserved
Baseball is Christopher Iazzetta's first love. Like many 16 year old boys, he dreamed of playing in college and perhaps even professionally. While many nurture that dream, Chris was among the gifted few with both the athleticism and focus to make it a reality. It was not unusual to find him perfecting his technique at an indoor baseball facility in Flemington, NJ. On one of those occasions, he'd finished batting practice and had begun pitching to a friend when tragedy struck. His friend connected with the ball and before Chris could react, the ball forcefully hit the right side of his head sending him to the ground. Initially, Chris remained conscious and even correctly answered some basic cognitive questions, but under the surface, the damage was much more serious than it seemed.

Within minutes, Chris started to sweat, developed a crushing headache and began to vomit. By the time Mary, his mother, arrived at the facility, he was disoriented and near the point of collapse. Alarmed by her son's condition, Mary drove him to Hunterdon Medical Center (HMC) where they were met without delay and triaged by the Emergency Department staff. A Board Certified Emergency physician instantly mobilized the comprehensive healthcare team to help stabilize Chris and the HMC team immediately performed a CT-scan to assess the damage. All HMC Emergency Department Registered Nurses receive trauma education to ensure that they are ready for any situation that may arise within their care setting.

The CT-scan revealed that the impact from the baseball had cracked Chris' skull, ruptured an artery and caused a blood clot to form in his brain. This "herniation" creates internal pressure that separates brain tissue from the normal position in the skull – a condition that if not treated in time, can cause permanent neurological impairment and possibly death. In this situation, time and expertise are vital to patient outcomes. With the clock ticking, HMC needed to act swiftly to save Chris's life.

Along with working to save Chris's life, the HMC team needed to care for Chris's family during this crisis. Despite the difficulty for them, Chris's parents needed to make critical, time-sensitive decisions, such as about potential organ donation. With care, compassion and tenderness, the HMC professionals helped Chris's family with their emotional needs and provided essential support.

As his condition was deteriorating rapidly, Chris needed to be transferred to a dedicated pediatric trauma center. But HMC had to overcome something out of their control - the weather condition that night. Dense fog in the area prohibited a medical chopper from transporting Chris. Understanding the need to act urgently with the severity of the situation, the Emergency Department staff decided to contact attending neurosurgeon, Dr. Seth Joseffer, who immediately left his Princeton home to make the difficult drive to HMC in very bad weather. He arrived at the medical center to find Chris unconscious and on life support.

With expert preparation and an acute sense of urgency, the HMC staff prepared Chris for surgery and worked with the neurosurgeon for the next several hours to operate and successfully remove the clot from Chris's brain. Thanks to the quick response of the Hunterdon Healthcare Emergency staff and Hunterdon Healthcare System's network of specialists like Dr. Joseffer, Chris' life was saved that night.

Now years later, Chris is thriving, playing the game he loves at college. "When people ask me about the experience, I can't say anything negative," says Chris and he feels tremendous gratitude to the staff at Hunterdon Medical Center. "I was minutes away from dying, but because of Hunterdon Medical Center and the team of doctors, nurses, technicians, I have a second chance."

Looking back, Chris' parents say, "We are so blessed to have Hunterdon Medical Center in our community. Without any hesitation or second thought, they ran to our crisis. Each day since that night, we are thankful that our son is here with us due to the quick action and tremendous skill of the staff at Hunterdon Medical Center. The care, compassion and treatment we received was outstanding. Please give what you can to maintain this vital and wonderful resource."


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