Superhero of PICU
Patient Name : Cullen Bosheers
“You need to go home. Something has happened to your sons.”
Fear gripped Dewayne as these words settled on his ears. What could have happened? They were on their way to school. They were only a half a block from home. He could hardly catch his breath. He gasped for air as if someone kicked him in the stomach. He thought he would be sick, but instead he raced home.
Before he ever arrived, he rode up on the scene. Lights. Sirens. A large truck and emergency vehicles. He saw the taillights of an ambulance as it sped away his eight-year-old son, Ryan. And he felt the gust of wind left by the helicopter as it lifted his seven-year-old son, Cullen, from the traumatic scene. The ordinary Friday morning of April 2, 2004, hurled Dewayne and Christie’s family of six into a living nightmare.
In Halifax-Fish Community Hospital, they were told, “We don’t know if anyone can save Cullen’s legs, much less his life. We are not sure he will even make it to Orlando.”
Sick with fear Christie accompanied her son on the helicopter while Dewayne chased the helicopter through tear-flooded eyes to Orlando Regional Level One Trauma Center. The initial efforts of the dedicated trauma team included vascular surgeon Pete Geary, MD, and pediatric orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Phillips, MD, and countless others. After a grueling ten hours in surgery, the exhausted pediatric surgeon Donald Plumley, MD, lifted his hands in amazement as he told Cullen’s parents, “I have never seen anything like that in my thirteen years as a surgeon.” Cullen was alive! Dr. Plumley assured them that everything went well during the surgery, but warned them that Cullen may not make it through the night. He also explained the likelihood of amputating both of Cullen’s legs.
The prayers for Cullen’s life and legs began and the astonishing journey of faith lifted the family’s hopes and cradled his torn body. Being run over by a large truck left Cullen with a shattered and detached pelvis, a bent arm, injuries to his lower organs, and the de-gloving—where the skin and tissue is sheered off as if removing a glove—of his left arm, his left thigh, and most of his right leg.
The team of doctors planned to amputate his leg on Saturday night, but chose to wait. By Sunday night, they had found a pulse in his leg. After four months, Cullen can lift his leg at the waist and slightly bend his knee. He confidently says, “My foot is still stuck, but one day I will walk!”
For a body that was nearly destroyed, for a family that almost lost a precious child, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children ministered healing in spectacular ways. Pediatric surgeons saved his life, plastic surgeons led by Walter Siemian, MD, replaced his skin with special skin, Integra, grown from a combination of his own skin cells and pig skin cells. Subsequent care by the wound management team spent countless hours with Cullen in the operating room. And the nurses brought the comfort – “Every time I start to leave the room he reaches for me. I just can’t let him feel alone,” explained Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse, Cecele Dunaway. All of Arnold Palmer Hospital fought for their little superhero. Before he left the facility after the almost four-month stay, team members arranged a private meeting with Cullen’s superhero, Spiderman.
Shortly before the incident, an Edgewater elementary school honored Cullen as the Student of the Week. On this certificate they commended Cullen for his determination—the same determination that has seen Cullen through twenty-eight surgeries and will see him through the necessary rehabilitation with a smile. His perspective…“Chicks like scars. And I have lots of them.”