Medical Update


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Chronology of Events and Medical Status Since the Accident.  
The Most Recent Report is First.

September 1, 2000  Late today Ben began to experience respiratory failure and passed away shortly after 7:00 pm Friday night.  Doctors at Brooke Army Medical Center exhausted all medical efforts and procedures known to help Ben pull through.  Ben fought an uphill battle since the accident July 28.  While it is clear he could have survived his burns and amputations he was unable to defeat the pneumonia which he contracted about two weeks after his accident.


August 30, 2000  (Late Revision)--Ben was doing a little better several hours after doctors changed the type of ventilator he was on.

(Early Update) Ben did not have a very good night last night.  The Pneumonia that he has been fighting, primarily in his right lung, has increased in his left lung now.  He has had this infection in both lungs but the left lung was in better shape and doing most of the respiration work.  This is a set back after 3 – 4 days of minor improvement.  Doctors have turned up the ventilator so it is doing most of the breathing work and are back to “bronching” him on a frequent basis.  This is the term they use when they insert a tube in his lungs that allows them to visually inspect each lung and at the same time suction the lungs to remove fluid.  He remains critical and unstable at this time.



August 29, 2000  No significant changes from yesterday.  Ben's condition remains basically the same.  He was moved to a different type of rotating bed this morning that allows additional rotation of the upper torso.  Since doing this doctors have put him in a partial sitting position.  He remains critical and unstable at this time.


August 28, 2000  Ben continued to show moderate improvement over the weekend.  The ventilator was turned down some as well as the amount of oxygen it was providing.  He has been oxygenating his own blood at 100%, which is very good.  His blood pressure has also been good.  Doctors are still concerned about his airway and continue to treat the Pneumonia as their most important priority at this time.  Because of the danger this type of problem can cause he is still listed as unstable.  He is still in the rotating bed.

Doctors are pleased with the way some of his burns and amputations are healing and currently do not plan any additional surgery until Friday of this week when they expect to put some allograft on his right arm.


August 25, 2000  The morning update on Ben today is that there is basically no change from yesterday.  Will try to find out more info when Ben's dad meets with his doctors later.


August 24, 2000  Ben had a relatively good night.  The use of a rotating bed seemed to help his breathing.  Doctors were able to turn down the respirator twice during the night as he was able to do more on his own.  The machine is currently helping him at a rate of 50% at this time versus 100% yesterday.  He is not out of the woods on this episode yet but is showing some moderate improvement.  He remains critical and unstable at this time but continues to fight.


August 23, 2000  After several days of improvement Ben has taken a backward step today.  The problem is fluid build-up in his lungs.  It is becoming more difficult to keep them clear.  Doctors are increasing the suctioning and ventilator activity.  They are also going to place him in an apparatus that will enable them to move him around.  This will give them the ability to place Ben in different positions (such as on his side) that will make it easier for him to breathe and deal with the fluid.

Doctors have told Ben’s Mom and Dad that they are very concerned but that they have many more things that they can try to help him deal with this situation.


August 22, 2000 As of this note we still don't have definitive word from Bens' doctor about yesterday's surgery.  (Note: If there was bad news we would know it.)  We do know it went well.  Late in the evening Ben was not oxygenating his blood as well as before so doctors planned to put a scope in his lungs to see if there is a fluid build up.  On doing this they discovered his left lung was not fully inflating so they inserted a chest tube and increased the ventilator a little to push more oxygen into his lungs.


August 21, 2000  Ben showed improvement over the weekend.  Lung functions improved, blood pressure improved and kidney function improved.  He remains critical but is clearly fighting to get better.  He is still fighting the Pneumonia he contracted last week plus he is also dealing with a total of four infections, one of which has entered his blood stream.  Doctors are continuing to treat him for all of these various complications as well as work on his burns.  I was able to visit with Ben Saturday and Sunday for a few brief minutes. Saturday he was quite swollen from the additional treatment but on Sunday after doctors had reduced his fluid and ventilator activity he began to look a little better.  His face is healing quite well and he is starting to look like Ben again.  He is still very, very sick and not out of the woods but I felt encouraged as I left on Sunday.  He is scheduled for a brief surgery today.  His doctors want to look at his hands real closely as well as apply some allo-graft (sp) skin to his right arm.


August 18, 2000  Ben had another restful night.  Doctors have reduced his oxygen again and also reduced his antibiotics a little.  He is considered improved but still not stable.


August 17, 2000  Ben had a relatively restful night.  Doctors have turned down his oxygen a little which is an indication he is breathing a little better.  They are still aggressively treating his pneumonia and have also begun to treat an infection that has entered his blood stream.  His condition remains basically the same from yesterday.  


August 16, 2000  (Revised) Ben has suffered somewhat of a set back.  He has contracted Pneumonia in both lungs.  His doctors are very concerned about this and are treating him aggressively because of the need to maintain his airway and good lung capacity.  In addition to the Pneumonia the second infection that he picked up late last week has spread and reached his blood stream.  As a result doctors are also administering antibiotics for this as well.  He is not considered stable at this time and doctors indicate the next 48 hours are very important.  The surgery scheduled for today was canceled due to the urgency of his current condition.


August 15, 2000  The result of Ben's 7th surgery was not what we hoped for.  Doctors amputated his left leg midway between his ankle and knee because they could not restore the circulation in his foot or ankle.  There were many procedures devoted to helping Ben regain circulation in this area but none were successful.  Some additional work was done on his temporary skin grafts and doctors report he tolerated the surgery well.  He is still fighting two infections and reports from his Dad indicate the fluid buildup in his lungs is reducing.


August 14, 2000  Late Friday Ben underwent a small procedure where doctors inserted a small basket similar in shape to a badminton birdie.  This basket is designed to catch any large blood clots that get free and begin to float around.

This morning Ben will undergo his 7th surgery.  The doctors' primary focus will be his left foot.  Some amputation is expected but we don't know how much at this time.  His condition is still critical.  He remains on a ventilator.

August 11, 2000  Doctors have delayed any further surgery until Monday.  The infections are considered to be "in-check" for the moment.  The ventilator was removed yesterday and Ben was able to have 30 minute visits with his mom and dad during the day.  He was conscious off an on and was able to briefly speak with his mom and was able to recognize her.  

Late in Thursday night Ben had difficulty breathing.  An emergency tracheotomy was performed.  Doctors found a few blood clots in his lungs and they are being treated with drugs.  He as been give the paralytic drugs again to keep him still and quiet and he is resting a this time.  Doctors indicate the clots in his lungs are normal and occur within two weeks of is the two week anniversary of Ben's accident.

August 10, 2000  Yesterday was a quiet day for Ben.  No surgery was necessary and the doctors believe they have contained the fungal infection and his right arm is clear at this time.  He has, however, picked up another infection.  This one is bacterial in nature.  Not sure at this time what treatment protocol is being used.  He has been quarantined to protect him from additional infection at this time.

August 8, 2000  The surgery (#6) today lasted about three hours.  Doctors continue to fight to contain an infection that was diagnosed on Friday.  Most of today's work was limited to his right hand and lower right arm.  He is scheduled to undergo surgery everyday this week to try to contain this infection.  His condition is still critical.

August 7, 2000  Ben is rushed to surgery (#5) today for an unplanned procedure.  Doctors are fighting the infection.  Surgery lasted about 2-3 hours.  Additional pathology reports are needed.  Results will be available Tuesday, August 8.  His condition is still critical.  He is put back on the ventilator and is unconscious.


August 6, 2000 Ben's ventilator was removed over the weekend because he was breathing well on his own.  He came out of his unconscious state but was very groggy.  His parents told him about the accident but he was not able to comprehend anything.  Doctors sedated him so he would not try to move around and risk damage to the new skin graft.  His condition is still critical. 


August 4, 2000 Surgery (#4) was scheduled for around 11:00am but Ben didn't actually get into the OR until around 3:00pm.  It lasted about 5 hours.  No significant change in his burns or extremities.  Doctors are very worried about an infection that he has developed.  His condition is still critical.  He remains unconscious and on the ventilator.


August 2, 2000 Surgery was again scheduled after a day of rest (Surgery #3). This procedure lasted 5 hours.  Doctors re-looked at his legs and believe the muscle areas are good and no more additional surgery will be required in these areas.  His left foot is still a concern.  His condition is still critical.  He remains unconscious and on the ventilator. 


July 31, 2000 After a day of rest Ben is subjected to 8 more hours of surgery (Surgery #2).  His condition remains critical.  Burn damage is very severe.  Surgeons are looking at his legs in more detail.  Skin grafting began and additional finger amputations are necessary on his left and right hands.  Doctors are very concerned about his left foot.  His condition is still critical. He remains unconscious and on the ventilator to help him breathe.


July 29, 2000 Ben undergoes 7-1/2 hours of surgery (Surgery #1).  His condition is very critical.  Surgeons examined his arms very carefully for muscle tissue damage. The severity of the damage will cause him to lose several fingers on his right hand.  His doctors are concerned about circulation to all of his extremities.  His condition is still critical. He remains unconscious and on the ventilator to help him breathe.


July 28, 2000 The accident occurred at approximately 8:30am.  Ben was airlifted to Breckenridge Hospital in Austin, TX.  Once his condition (critical) was accessed he was airlifted again to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX.   Brooke Army Medical Center is the military's premier burn center and better able to deal with cases of this severity.  His condition is critical.  He is unconscious and on a ventilator.