When Hyatt was hit by a car while riding his bike, emergency teams did not think he would survive. But thanks to the intensive care he received at Levine Children’s Hospital, he was home in time for Christmas.

News, Child Health | 8 months ago

Hyatt Faced Life-Threatening Injuries from a Car Accident, but Beat the Odds Nearly Unscathed

When Hyatt was hit by a car while riding his bike, emergency teams did not think he would survive. But thanks to the intensive care he received at Levine Children’s Hospital, he was home in time for Christmas.

Editor's notePhotos and video were taken before the coronavirus pandemic and may not reflect current health and safety policies.

 

When 6-year-old Hyatt Hunt was hit by a car while riding his bike, he endured life-threatening head injuries and became completely comatose. Hyatt was taken from the scene by ambulance and airlifted to Levine Children’s Hospital (LCH) – taking him in an 11-minute helicopter ride on Atrium Health’s MedCenter Air across a distance that would take an hour by car – because of the severity of his injuries. He was admitted as a Level 1 pediatric trauma code. Kayla Hunt, Hyatt’s mother, says, “I’m pretty sure the helicopter ride saved his life.”

Close to home access to care

LCH, the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in the area, took immediate action. Hyatt was intubated, placed on a ventilator, and sent for CT scans. The scans revealed that the story was worse than anticipated. He not only had bleeding into his brain, but an injury to the top of his cervical spine: he was internally decapitated. He required immediate surgeries to lessen the chance of death or paralysis. For almost two weeks during his stay at LCH, Hyatt required intubation, a breathing tube, and a mechanical ventilator to keep him alive. 

The situation was dire. “We didn’t realize it was going to be that bad,” says Jonathan Hunt, Hyatt’s father. But the coordinated care at LCH, with communication and teamwork between the physician teams, and the respiratory therapy, nursing, and critical care staff, as well as all the additional support staff, was essential to his recovery. 

“Without that type of teamwork, Hyatt wouldn’t have had the outcome that he had. The motivation, the dedication, the experience, is beyond anything in the region,” says Dwight Bailey, MD, pediatric specialty medical director for critical care at Levine Children’s. A multidisciplinary approach to treating Hyatt, including the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), neurosurgery, and rehab at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Rehabilitation, is what allowed him to make his miraculous recovery.

A speedy recovery

After over a month at LCH, Hyatt was allowed to go home. His recovery was much quicker than originally anticipated. Jonathan Hunt recalls, “Rehab did amazing with him…they told us he could leave in a wheelchair…[but] he came home without a walker. He came home walking.” 

Hyatt’s parents credit Hyatt’s positive outcome to the experience of the teams at LCH.   

“It is because of that dedication of that team, that experience of that team, that allows a patient like Hyatt to have an incredible outcome, where he literally walks out of the hospital four weeks later,” says Dr. Bailey.

“He came from the pediatric rehab floor back up to the pediatric ICU one last time before he was discharged and walks into our unit, smiles and shakes our hands, jumps up and down, and high fives everyone. And it is that outcome, that recovery, that amount of excitement, not only from Hyatt but from his family, that shows what a team effort can truly accomplish.”

After leaving the hospital, Hyatt underwent physical therapy to correct balance problems and double vision. He also had some immediate memory loss, but no brain damage, as was originally feared. And instead of losing 50% of the movement in his neck, he has only lost 10%. The possibility of brain damage or paralysis was also severe, but thanks to the quick and communicative teamwork at LCH, Hyatt has escaped unscathed. “It’s been incredible,” Kayla says. “His recovery is just amazing…He’s back to being himself.”

For the Hunts to have their boy back healthy, without brain damage, or mobility damage, it truly is a miracle. Kayla Hunt says, “Levine Children's Hospital is the best hospital that there could ever be.”