Two simultaneous life-saving surgeries save Burnet man's life


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

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Posted on March 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 4 at 6:41 PM

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- A potentially fatal accident followed by two life-saving surgeries performed at the same time, could be called a "Christmas miracle" for one Central Texas family.

"It's amazing," said Brandon McCord of Burnet.

You can't blame the 23-year-old for being amazed. He sat in the emergency room at Seton Medical Center Williamson just two months after what could have been a life-ending accident shortly before Christmas.

"The only thing I remember is pulling out of our house and noticing that it was really foggy," said McCord.

McCord spent the next several hours in a different fog -- a coma -- the result of another driver running a red light and crashing into him just three blocks from his house. He suffered two life-threatening injuries -- bleeding on the brain and damage to his spleen. 

Dr. Drue Ware recalls driving into work that morning.

"As I pulled on to Highway 29, I was able to see the ambulance carrying Brandon behind me," said Ware.  

Ware, the Trauma Center Medical Director at Seton Medical Center Williamson, and Glenn Harper, a neurosurgeon with the Seton Brain & Spine Institute, quickly realized their dilemma.

"If you allow somebody's blood pressure to get too low and get into shock from bleeding it will exacerbate or make the brain injury worse," said Ware.

"Most often we have to wait for one surgery to complete and then do the other," said Harper.  "We have to prioritize which we are going to do, but the downside of that is you are losing valuable time."

So they decided they both would operate at the same time.

"In my 20 years I may have had one other episode where I had done that," said Harper. "By stopping the abnormal bleeding in the abdomen as well as taking the pressure off the brain, we maximized the potential of brain recovery."

"I could have lifelong problems from this, and I don't," said McCord.

McCord's recovery was so remarkably fast that just six days after his surgery doctors deemed he didn't need any rehab. He was free to go home. 

McCord and his family were reunited recently with the surgeons and medical team that saved his life.

"You can thank the surgeons," he said. "You can thank the ambulance people. You can thank God, but you know, there are just no words for it."  

Doctors and staff at Seton Medical Center Williamson may have one word for it -- teamwork.