Remarkable Recovery for Inova Patient

Inova teamwork restores Manassas teen to normal life after severe hit-and-run collision  

Ethan McLaurin is active again following
a near-fatal incident last December.

When 18-year-old Ethan McLaurin goes out for a walk these days, his mom can’t help but hold her breath. That’s because mere months have passed since one of Ethan’s outings took a shocking turn that nearly claimed his life — a tragic outcome averted by the expertise of a highly collaborative team of Inova doctors, nurses and physical therapists.

Ethan was on an afternoon run last December when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, propelling him 30 feet over a bridge and onto the rocky ravine below. The Manassas teen was knocked unconscious due to a concussion and suffered other severe injuries that included a gaping abdominal wound, badly broken pelvis, multiple spinal compression fractures and a broken leg. 

An EMS team carefully moved Ethan from the 40-degree rocky, sloped terrain and airlifted him to Inova Fairfax Medical Campus (IFMC), Northern Virginia’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. There Ethan underwent two operations during the first 24 hours and several more over the following week to control bleeding, clean out bone fragments and debris from his abdomen, and set his pelvic bones with surgical hardware, among other priorities. 

The extent of Ethan’s injuries left an extraordinary outcome in doubt, at least at first. “Open pelvic fractures have a 50% survival rate, so obviously it was a very serious situation,” says Stephen Malekzadeh, MD, an IFMC orthopedic trauma surgeon who was pivotal to Ethan’s care. “When someone comes in with an open pelvic fracture from being thrown over a bridge, it moves you to quick action.”

Collaborative Teamwork Pays Off

Ethan’s air arrival at IFMC set in motion intricate teamwork by a highly skilled set of acute care, orthopedic trauma and neurosurgery specialists including Hani Seoudi, MD, Jeff Schulman, MD, Stephen Malekzadeh, MD, and Joseph Watson, MD.

Dr. Seoudi of the Trauma Acute Care Surgery division performed the initial resuscitation, control of bleeding and wound management. Once the initial stabilization and full diagnostic workup was completed, the orthopedic trauma team proceeded with operative management. After four operations and with his spinal fractures stabilized, Ethan then required months of physical therapy that began as an inpatient at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital (IMVH) and continued at home.

“The overall weakness that occurs because of injuries . . . limits a patient’s ability to resume activities of daily living, so they need to get into a rehabilitative program to regain their strength and balance,” explains Dr. Seoudi. 

Ethan was released from IMVH just in time to celebrate Christmas. Since then, his mother has been astounded by his progress. “Two-and-a-half months later, he was going up and down the stairs by himself, standing in the kitchen and making his own food,” she says. “It’s admirable how much drive he has to get back to his old self.”

Program Connects Patients

A key tool in Ethan’s recovery has been the Trauma Survivors Network, a program at IFMC that is available at only about 100 hospitals nationwide. The network connects former trauma patients with current trauma patients and families to help them deal with the psychological fallout of their ordeal.

“Youth was on Ethan’s side, but he also had the proper environment that helped build him back up,” says Dr. Schulman, orthopedic trauma surgeon. “With family support, top-notch medical care and the Trauma Survivors Network, the sum is greater than the parts. All of it allows someone like Ethan to flourish.”

For his part, Ethan is making peace with the unexpected detour in his life. He’s back at work as a delivery driver and plans to attend college in Houston to study sociology. “I am so grateful for Inova and its incredible team who helped me physically and emotionally,” he says. “Instead of being sad about what happened, I’ve been trying to put all my effort and emotion into fixing my situation. I’m pretty much back to feeling like it never even happened.” 

What Makes Level 1 Trauma Care Different?

After Manassas teenager Ethan McLaurin was struck by a
hit-and-run driver last December, airlifting him to the Level 1 Trauma Center at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus (IFMC) helped save his life. What makes this center unique?

  • IFMC is the only such trauma center in Northern
    Virginia. The Commonwealth of Virginia has bestowed the designation since 1981, and the American College of Surgeons has verified it since 1993. Each year, IFMC treats several thousand trauma patients who are injured in car crashes, falls, industrial accidents, acts of violence and recreational accidents.
  • IFMC trauma patients come to Inova from Fairfax County, the surrounding counties, West Virginia, and Maryland, benefiting from around-the-clock expertise by trauma surgeons and other specialists such as neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and plastic surgeons.
  • With robust injury prevention programs such as Stop the Bleed,
    Safe Kids, Reality Check and classes for aging adults, IFMC Trauma Center provides total care for every aspect of injury — from prevention through rehabilitation.

“We’re the ultimate safety net for Northern Virginia,” says
IFMC orthopedic trauma surgeon Jeff Schulman, MD. “We help patients cope with trauma, survive and rehabilitate to get them back to their lives with the highest quality of care. They don’t have to look across the country or world; they have world-class, state-of-the-art care in their own community.”

Now Open

In May, Inova Fairfax Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation opened at the Inova Center for Personalized Health, providing a space where patients can receive intensive rehab after a major injury or illness. The unit, which complements rehabilitation services offered at Inova
Mount Vernon Hospital
, opened with 10 beds with the goal of reaching 25
beds by the end of 2020.

Help With Tragedy
Learn more about the Inova Trauma Center.

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