I thought I would write and provide information regarding Shannon’s accident and what has happened since then. My information may not be entirely accurate but it is what I have been able to piece together, so if further clarification comes in the future we will provide it.
Yesterday afternoon around 2:15, Kate and Shannon were doing some recreational riding near Kate’s home on some small motorcycles. They were approaching a stationary back hoe on the path with Kate in the lead. Kate slowed and was preparing to make a U turn. Shannon apparently lost control of her bike (Kate thinks the throttle may have stuck) and hit a support leg of the backhoe, which threw her forward, head first into the arm of the backhoe. Kate immediately called 911 and the PG paramedics were on the scene within 5 minutes. They transported Shannon to the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.
Pheobe was in Seattle visiting Nate and Jess, and I was in Salt Lake. The police called Pheobe and Pheobe called me and I raced down to UVRMC, arriving as Shannon was completing a CT scan. The initial information provided me was not very good. Her scores on the rating system were very low when she got to the hospital and they were concerned that she may not survive. As I was getting that information, the trauma nurse came in and indicated that she had stabilized quite a bit. Her vital signs were good and she was breathing on her own. Some positive signs were that she was moving her arms and legs, she squeezed my hand, scratched at her nose, but was not responsive when anyone spoke to her. They felt like she needed to be transported to Primary Children’s where she could receive the best possible care and had already sedated her in preparation for the trip, which is normal. I was able to give her a blessing and then they prepared her for Life Flight to Primary’s. Janet (Pheobe’s sister) came down to the hospital and then Kate and Chad arrived. I left for Salt Lake while Janet and Kate stayed until Shannon took off by helicopter.
When I got to Primary’s she was having another CAT Scan completed and had been initially evaluated. The scan showed increased accumulation of blood on her brain and the Neurosurgeon felt like he needed to get in and perform emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. The surgery was complicated by the fact that there was bleeding on both sides of the brain and the way that her skull was fractured. The main fracture was from one ear up to the top of her head and down to the other ear, as well as some other minor breaks. So they rushed her off to the Operating Room at about 5:20, the doctor indicating that it would be a 2 – 2 ½ hour procedure.
In the meantime, Pheobe had rushed to the Seattle airport to get back to Salt Lake as quickly as possible. A little after 7pm, the Neurosurgeon came out to the OR waiting room to tell me how things had gone during the surgery. He indicated that Shannon had done well, her vitals remained stable throughout the surgery. He then said that the surgery had gone better than he had expected. He was able to stop the bleeding. The source on the left side was an artery that he was able to cauterize and the right side was more oozing from some of the vessels. He indicated that the blood was in the space between the membrane around the brain (Dura) and the skull, which was really good news as opposed to the blood being in the brain itself. He did not see any excess bruising of the brain either. He removed a couple large sections of the skull so that they could control the pressures better and give the brain a chance to swell and not have as many complications if the swelling occurred within the skull. He indicated that he will probably replace those in about a month. He also placed a couple drains to help remove the post-operative bleeding and control pressures in the brain. As I shared with Aaron the results of the surgery, he felt that it was the best possible outcome that we could have hoped for given the extent and seriousness of her injuries.
Shortly after that conversation, Pheobe arrived from the airport. Landon had gone up to meet her and provide transportation. We waited a while longer and then Shannon was returned to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. We went back to see her there and the nurse reported that Shannon had squeezed her hand and that they had seen some movement in her arms and legs, which were again good signs. Some excitement ensued when she vomited some but they soon got everything cleared out and back in shape. The doctors felt that the best way to allow her brain to heal, particularly in the near term was to keep her in a drug-induced coma as well as under drug-induced paralysis. This will allow her brain to rest and get as much oxygen and nutrients as possible. We expect that this will last for at least a few days. In that state, they have her on a ventilator to control breathing and oxygen flow, and they have tubes all over the place, administering medications, monitoring pressures, etc.
So we are now playing a waiting game. She as experienced a severe brain trauma and the extent of any brain injury is not known. The primary emphasis right now is to keep her stable and let the brain go through its process of post-injury swelling over the next few days and observing the reduction of that swelling. At some point they will reduce the medications keeping her in a coma and see what her responses are.
We appreciate the love and prayers that have been offered in Shannon’s behalf and in our behalf. We feel that she has experienced miracles already and continue to pray and exercise faith that such will continue. She is in good hands, both from the medical professionals here but especially in the tender embrace of the Savior.