EXCLUSIVE: ARMADALE-Kelmscott Memorial Hospital's new intensive care unit had a baptism of fire when paramedics sped 13-year-old Jamie Wareham through its doors.
Unconscious, in severe shock and bleeding to death internally after virtually impaling himself on the handlebar of his bike, the teenager was in a “massively unstable” condition.
ICU director Kieran Lennon, who had 16 years experience in major trauma centres in the UK, was brought in with a colleague six months beforehand to lead the unit.
On January 31 paramedics made the life-saving decision to take Jamie straight there rather than to the city.
“The force of that handlebar jamming into his abdomen tore his liver in two and ripped open the vena cava, one of the main blood vessels that carries blood into the heart,” Dr Lennon said.
“They made a difficult but important - and correct - decision. He would not have got outside the boundaries of Armadale.
“If they hadn't made that call as quickly as they did, he would have died on the scene. He was as good as dead when he got into theatre.”
Dr Lennon said a tremendous effort from junior and senior medical staff, nurses, orderlies and the Red Cross went into the surgery.
“We used complex resuscitation principles based on the latest research, similar to what is being used for victims of major military trauma on the battlefield,” he said.
“We replaced his entire blood volume at least 10 times.”
They quickly used all stocks of Jamie's blood type at the hospital, and rushed in more from the city with a police escort.
Over three hours, general surgeon Kim Goddard repaired the blood vessel and stabilised Jamie enough for a risky transfer to Princess Margaret Hospital with his abdomen still open and Dr Lennon beside him.
He remained like this, unconscious and on life support in ICU, for another week until doctors considered it safe to close his abdomen.
“His probability of death, based on trauma scores from this injury, would have been 96.5 per cent even had he been in a major trauma unit such as Royal Perth Hospital,” Dr Lennon said.
“I've been doing this sort of trauma work for a long time and this is one of the best survivals I've ever seen. It's a miracle.”
The Comment News team is meeting Jamie and his family next Tuesday. Read next week's edition to find out more about this “miracle.”