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MX News Update 2024

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North Texas teen recovers from devastating injury – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Doctors at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Grapevine are calling it “miraculous.”

A 15-year-old high school wrestler just proved pretty much everyone wrong after suffering a devastating spinal cord injury.

Angel Hernandez is one of four patients invited to BSW’s Grapevine Trauma Survivors Reunion on Wednesday to share his story and reconnect with medical staff and first responders.

“I just want to thank all the surgeons and paramedics,” Angel Hernandez said before the crowd gathered in the Grapevine Hospital lobby. “To the ambulance crew, I would like to thank you for calming me down and being there for me.”

In a crowd of survivors, Angel stands out simply by standing up and walking.

On January 11, 2024, the 15-year-old suffered a devastating injury during a high school wrestling match.

“I dominated,” he said. “I wanted to end the match there when he put me in a position. I tried to freak out because I was being flashy.

The next thing he felt was excruciating pain after being hit on the head.

“It sounded like when I landed on my head, it was a kaboom sound,” he recalls.

Angel immediately knew something was wrong.

“Imagine your arm is asleep and everything in your body can’t move,” he said. “When I felt that numbness, I thought, ‘Get up, Angel, power through,’ but when I tried to get up, it immediately broke my heart because I knew I was losing my sport. That is the sport I fell in love with.”

He remembers people rushing to him. Paramedics were able to stabilize the teen’s injured neck and transport him to BSW Grapevine for level one trauma care.

Dr. Ryan Balogh, MD, was the trauma surgeon on call that evening.

Baylor neurosurgeon Dr. David Masel, MD, also responded to the emergency.

Balogh and his colleagues discovered the injuries to Angel’s C5-C6 vertebrae, lower neck and upper thoracic spine. Some of the vertebrae caused injury and bleeding to the spinal cord itself.

The teenager would have to undergo emergency surgery to fix the bleeding around his spinal cord.

They raised Angel’s blood pressure in hopes of preventing further injury and then lowered it so his spinal cord could receive blood and oxygen.

Doctors were stunned to hear that Angel reported having some feeling in his legs before the surgery.

They didn’t want to give Angel’s panicked family false hope.

They feared he would leave the hospital paralyzed.

“Given his injuries when he came in, we were pretty confident he wouldn’t regain the function of his legs at all and our goal was to preserve as much function of his arms as possible,” Balogh said. “We were quite confident that the spinal cord would never function below the level of the injury.”

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the teen started moving and left the hospital seven days later.

“It was a breathtaking moment,” Balogh said. “Quite miraculously, I will now say within a few days that he got up and took a few steps.”

Unbelievable, he says, given the severity of the injury.

“Horrible is a great way to describe it,” Balogh said. “It’s a devastating injury, especially for a 15-year-old. When we see those types of injuries, we don’t see a recovery like this. When he spoke to a spine surgeon afterwards and told him that he is walking and taking steps, he also used the word ‘miracle’.”

Balogh is quick to credit everyone from start to finish, top to bottom, for the boy’s incredible recovery, praising the first responders on the scene.

“Those minutes are critical and they really matter,” he said.

From the nursing staff to the cleaning crew, everyone has a share in this, says Balogh.

As for Angel, this experience has taught him patience.

He reflects on the moments leading up to his injury, when he became impatient, ready to end the match.

“It taught me to be more patient and not to judge,” he said. “People are going through tough times and who knows, you might be going through tough times too.”

He spent two months out of school recovering.

Hospital staff called and managed to get Angel admitted free of charge to a Baylor Scott & White rehabilitation center, which specializes in spinal cord injuries.

The teen also openly discusses the mental toll the experience has caused, saying he often felt like he lost who he was and everything he could have in the future.

“How I went from victim to survivor, it’s all mental,” he said. ‘Say you’re hurt. Just know that you can get better day by day and know that people are going through worse.

After Wednesday’s event, Angel received a trauma survivor bracelet with the day he was admitted and an engraving that reads: Never Give Up.

“No matter what happens, you stay true to yourself,” he said. “It doesn’t change you at all.”

Although Angel would love to return to the sport he loves, doctors are convinced he shouldn’t.

For now, the first-year student dreams of becoming a lawyer one day.