Mason's Story: Nicklaus Children's Makes the Difference for Child with Traumatic Brain Injury

Published on: 09/21/2018

By Maria Siero

December 27, 2016 was absolutely the worst day of my life.

On that horrific day, my life and family changed forever.

My family had been in a car accident. My sister died instantly. Her 15-month-old son, Mason, was in critical condition. The doctors did not know if he would make it.

Seeing a baby boy intubated, hooked up to a maze of machines, and with IV pumps snaking out of his tiny arms is an incredibly heartbreaking and terrifying experience.

And to discover that the team in charge of taking care of your precious baby is a pair of nurses with scared looks on their faces—with no doctor on site—is not reassuring. It’s distressing.

Mason while he was hospitalized

What I felt then was indescribable, but there was an imminent sense of doom, of fear. I knew that if my nephew stayed at that hospital, he would die. We knew that we had to transfer him to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital—the only hospital with a certified child trauma center.

A medical fellowship trainee at the hospital did finally show up and informed me that she also felt it would be best to transfer my baby to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital; his case was too grave, and they were simply not equipped to handle it.

Yet I was torn. I was elated that our baby boy would finally be with professionals who would know how to manage his care, but I was hesitant. He would have to be airlifted in critical condition.

Thankfully, he made it to Nicklaus safely with the help of the hospital’s LifeFlight Critical Care Transport team. As soon as we arrived, it felt safer. The Nicklaus Children’s staff was not only caring and friendly, but knowledgeable and explained everything to us in detail. Meeting the neurosurgery team brought us great comfort because they were confident and calm—they won our trust immediately.

With neurosurgeons Dr. Ragheb, Dr. Bhatia, and Dr. Niazi on our team, we finally felt our baby had a strong chance of making it through this horrific ordeal. The Nicklaus team was with us every step of the way, consoling us when the nightmare became too grim.

Mason's surgery scar

Today, my nephew is happy and healthy.

Accidents like ours happen. I see it on the news. I read about it in the paper. But they weren’t supposed to happen to people like me or to my family—until one did. It can happen to anyone. During that time, I cannot stress the importance of having an experienced and skilled team of pediatric trauma doctors and staff at your side to support you and provide the best care to your child.

Children are not mini-adults. Pediatric trauma is a specialty within a specialty: it requires hours and hours of training. I myself work in the medical field and work with many brilliant and skilled physicians and surgeons, all of whom provide care for adults. However, they all defer to experienced pediatric physicians and surgeons when a child’s care hangs in the balance.

We should always provide children with the best care. We should do right by them. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are in the right hands when they are most in need.

Like many children in our community served by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, my nephew is living a happy, healthy life, and is about to celebrate his next birthday. This would have been impossible if he had been treated anywhere else.

Mason with his mom

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