For years, local TV personality Colleen Odegaard has interviewed patients from Levine Children’s Hospital to share their remarkable stories. Now it’s her son’s turn to tell about the just-in-time care he received from LCH surgeons that saved his life.

Child Health, News | one month ago

A Life-Saving Surgery That's Made for TV

For years, local TV personality Colleen Odegaard has interviewed patients from Levine Children’s Hospital to share their remarkable stories. Now it’s her son’s turn to tell about the just-in-time care he received from LCH surgeons that saved his life.

Longtime local TV personality Colleen Odegaard believed she knew how much a great children’s hospital means to a community. As the host of Charlotte Today on WCNC, she’s had patients from Levine Children’s Hospital on her show many times to share their incredible stories of survival and triumph.

But not until her own family needed life-saving care did she fully appreciate how fortunate our region is to have a nationally recognized hospital like LCH.

Last June, Colleen’s 16-year-old son, Anthony Archdeacon, was playing in a rugby tournament when a routine tackle sent an opposing player’s knee flying into the left side of his head. He went down, stood back up, then fell again. He chose to leave the game and felt dizzy the rest of the day.

The next morning, though, things turned much worse.

“We tried to wake him, but he wasn’t responding,” says Colleen. “We had to carry him downstairs.”

Colleen and her husband immediately took Anthony to the emergency room at Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville, where a brain scan revealed a large, slow bleed inside his skull. He needed surgery – and fast.

An Atrium Health helicopter flew Anthony to LCH, where Scott Wait, MD, director of pediatric neurosurgery for LCH, and his team were ready to rush Anthony right into the operating room.

Anthony’s injury was a “skull fracture and epidural hematoma,” says Dr. Wait. His team had to remove part of Anthony’s skull to remove the blood and stop the bleeding. Afterward, they repaired and replaced his skull with small titanium plates and screws.

“Without immediate treatment, the injury was life-threatening,” says Dr. Wait. “It could have caused permanent brain damage or even death.”

Surviving the scare

Although he has no memory of anything that happened that day, Anthony pulled through in excellent condition. He was discharged only two days later and hasn’t needed any type of rehabilitation, although he now has a large crescent-shaped scar across his head.

Dr. Wait is quick to point out that it took an entire team to provide Anthony the expert care he needed – from the nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit to the neurosurgical resident, Vincent Rossi, MD, who performed alongside Dr. Wait.

“It’s what happens when you have good people working together who put the patient’s needs first,” Dr. Wait says.

Anthony also credits the LCH team for helping him through his recovery. “There was always someone there for me – always someone to talk to,” says Anthony. Child life specialists at the hospital also offered to help the family join a support group for trauma survivors, making sure the whole family was taken care of.

Moving on – with new priorities

Despite Anthony’s expected full recovery, there will be no more rugby or football – the two sports he plays and loves. “I’ve advised him to stay away from contact sports for now,” says Dr. Wait.

Anthony plans to focus on other activities when he returns for his sophomore year in high school this fall. But his injury has forced all of his family to rethink their priorities.

“This changed our perspective – coming up right to the edge and staring death in the face and knowing we still have our son,” says Colleen. “It changed us as a family, and it will change how we live from here on out. We really appreciate everything now – everything.”

Barring any setbacks, Anthony will need only a six-month follow-up, but he saw Dr. Wait much sooner. On August 16, they were both guests on Charlotte Today – with Colleen hosting, of course – where they all shared more about Anthony’s story.