John Sharp Defeats the Odds
When John Sharp woke up the morning of February 21, 2012 it was an ordinary day. Little would he know by that afternoon his life would hang in the balance in the capable hands of highly-trained emergency and trauma professionals at UT Medical Center, who would ultimately save his life. The series of events that followed subsequently activated the chain of survival that impacted John’s near fatal accident, hospitalization and recovery.
John was critically injured that afternoon when he left work not feeling well. He passed out while driving and hit a concrete utility pole going 78 miles per hour. His car hit the utility pole with such force that his car split in half and the severity of John’s injuries should have killed him on impact. John was pinned in his vehicle and removed by the Knoxville Fire Department and Rural Metro Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who arrived within 3 minutes after dispatch time. Upon arrival it was apparent that John suffered from massive chest trauma as well as multiple orthopedic injuries. The multi-agency response and teamwork initiated Multi-System Shock/Trauma Protocol Guidelines which were critical first steps in John’s survival.
John was transported to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center at The University of Tennessee Medical Center where they immediately began to work to save his life. In retrospect, if one little thing had been different, one step a little bit slower, one decision made differently; John would not be alive today.
John shouldn’t have lived to reach the Emergency Department.
The CT scan confirmed John’s critical condition where they found a life-threatening aortic injury. As his CT image displayed on the screen, he went into cardiac arrest. The emergency and trauma team quickly sprang into action to drain the blood away from the heart, quickly placed a chest tube and rushed him to the operating room.
John shouldn’t have lived to reach the operating room.
Once there, everyone worked together like an elegant machine to get him prepared for surgery. When they opened John’s chest they could hear the bleeding. The impact from the accident made a dime sized hole in his heart and was pouring a unit of blood every 10 seconds into his chest.
His heart stopped pumping for 7 minutes.
In a truly collaborative effort he was given 6 units of blood, 19 units of red blood cells, 17 units of fresh frozen plasma, 12 units of platelets, 4 liters of crystalloid (fluid resuscitation), an injection of epinephrine into his heart, and internal defibrillators were used twice. John’s devastating injury seemed impossible that he would survive, but his heart started beating again.
John shouldn’t have lived to reach the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Not only did John have the sort of injury that normally kills patients within the first few minutes after trauma, but he suffered from pelvic fractures, multiple orthopedic fractures, including complete reconstruction to the left side of his face, and severe trauma to his chest wall. John’s prognosis was grim, and it was unsure whether he would ever wake up. For a month, he was unconscious and struggled in the medical center’s Intensive Care Unit, but his family and friends were there every step of the way. From the moment John arrived, the halls were lined with family and friends. They waited patiently in the surgery waiting room and kept hope and faith through every procedure that John would live.
Not only did he live, but he is well on his way to full recovery one year after his accident.
John has returned to his life of being a husband, a father, a brother and a son. He returned to work six months after his hospital release and is recuperating well through ongoing rehabilitation. Looking back on that day everything lined up perfectly to save his life. From his rapid transport to a Level I Trauma Center, the seamless ease of the EMS team who worked on him first, the tireless efforts of the operating room staff and anesthesia, the remarkable care of the ICU nurses, the love and prayers of John’s family and friends; all of these factors together, helped John miraculously recover.
John and his family take comfort in knowing that what may seem to be impossible cases, put in the right hands, can have incredible outcomes. His story began with a horrific, near fatal accident, but through skill, training and many prayers, it is only in complete awe that John is here today and led him to recovery.