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A bike ride with his teenage sister on a sunny August day nearly turned to tragedy for 10-year-old Jack Brodrick. His family, who lives in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC, was visiting their grandmother Carol Perry, at her home in Rehoboth Beach, DE, and enjoying their time together.
Just that morning, his mother Jill had reminded her son about wearing his bicycle helmet. Despite her warnings, Jack took off without it. A short distance away from the house, his foot somehow missed the bike’s pedal and Jack fell off the bike sideways. His head crashed into the pavement.
“I was up ahead of Jack and heard him fall,” says his sister Lindsay. “He was on the ground with his eyes open, but unconscious. Jack had a huge, discolored bump on his head. I was terrified.” Some boys walking nearby ran for help. Lindsay called her mom and then 911. Several neighbors, one of whom was a doctor, came to the scene.
“As the ambulance got there, Jack was trying to stand on his own and was very disoriented and combative,” says Lindsay. The paramedics placed a tube in his throat to help him breathe and rushed him to a nearby community hospital. A CAT scan showed a huge pocket of blood (hematoma) beneath Jack’s skull.
Jack was transferred by helicopter to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Delaware’s only Level II Pediatric Trauma Center. Wilmington resident David Lyons, whose vacation home is just across the street, immediately offered to drive the family two hours north to the hospital. “We were so scared,” says Jill, “Everything felt out of control. I was so grateful for David’s help.” Jack’s father, John, who was at home in Maryland, met them there.
A second CAT scan revealed that the bleeding in Jack’s brain had worsened. Immediate surgery was needed. Neurosurgeon Joseph Piatt Jr. opened the boy’s skull and removed the expanding hematoma. Jack spent two days in the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). “When he woke up, his first questions were: ‘Why am I naked? And why didn’t I have dinner last night?’” remembers Jill.
Soon Jack was eating and walking without assistance. He was discharged from the hospital after only four days. Jack decided to explain the big scar along his hairline by telling the kids at school that he had been bitten by a tiger shark. The other thing Jack now tells his friends is to always wear a helmet!