A miraculous recovery
Waycross, Ga., boy comes back after horrific dirt bike accident.
Juice Staff Published: 3/28/2019
Nickolas McDaniel, 11, loves the outdoors and enjoys riding dirt bikes. In January, Nickolas was riding his dirt bike at the motocross track in Alma, Ga. A routine ride unexpectedly changed with a crash.
“We went to ride for a few hours and something went horribly wrong on a jump,” said Shawnda McDaniel, Nickolas’s mother. “At first, Nickolas didn’t appear to be hurt. But moments after the accident, things quickly changed.”
While his external injuries looked minimal, Nickolas’s internal injuries were severe and he began experiencing shortness of breath. Shawnda and Frankie, Nickolas’s father, took their son immediately to the ER at a local hospital for an examination. There, the medical team ordered a CAT scan and X-rays and determined Nickolas had severely lacerated his liver from the blunt force of the crash.
On the medical Liver Injury Scale Classification, Nickolas had a grade IV injury, with I being the least severe and IV being the most severe. Nickolas also suffered a bruised lung and kidney laceration from the fall.
“I was so scared,” said Shawnda. “I didn’t know what was going to happen to my son.”
The medical team recommended Nickolas be transferred to the Pediatric Trauma Center at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. He was transported there by air ambulance and examined by Pediatric Trauma Center Medical Director Nick Poulos, MD, a pediatric surgeon with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville, who practices at Wolfson Children’s.
“Nickolas had experienced significant internal injuries and damaged major blood vessels,” said Dr. Poulos. “Those types of injuries are cause for concern.”
Dr. Poulos said, “If an individual’s conditions permit, non-operative therapy is the primary treatment method for liver trauma.”
Dr. Poulos’ treatment plan included observation and pain management. Nickolas spent three days in the Pediatric ICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where he underwent additional testing and monitoring for internal bleeding. Nickolas’s discharge orders included limited activity for nearly two months, providing time for the liver to heal.
“We wanted to make sure that Nickolas’s liver and internal organs were stable,” said Dr. Poulos. “When a liver sustains damage, time will make it more solid.”
Nickolas, who is a fifth grader at Williams Heights Elementary School in Waycross, spent seven weeks recovering at home before Dr. Poulos cleared him to return to school and resume all physical activities without restrictions. Nickolas will return to Wolfson Children’s for occasional check-ups.
“Everyone we met at Wolfson Children’s – the trauma team, the nurses and the housekeeping staff – were amazing,” said Shawnda.
Dr. Poulos encourages everyone to use proper safety precautions and think twice before engaging in high-risk activities.
“Although Nickolas was wearing a helmet and proper safety gear, he was undertaking a sport with an inherent risk that can lead to an accident and serious injury,” said Dr. Poulos.
Wolfson Children’s Hospital has the most experienced pediatric emergency teams, offering comprehensive, high-level for children with life-threatening and urgent medical needs. Wolfson Children’s is home to the only designated Pediatric Trauma Center in Northeast Florida, demonstrating that it meets stringent standards of care set forth by the state of Florida. The Pediatric Trauma Center serves children well beyond Jacksonville, including Southeast Georgia. Wolfson Children’s trauma fleet that includes the Kids Kare Mobile ICU, two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft help children get to the hospital’s life-saving care quickly.
Wolfson Children’s Hospital cares for children from North Florida, South Georgia and beyond, providing services in partnership with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville, and the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, Emergency Resources Group, and many community partners.
For bike safety tips, visit wolfsonchildrens.com/safekids.