Performing emergency surgery in a car park
With a critically ill patient stranded in regional Victoria and no ambulance available to get to him in time, Alfred Health trauma director Mark Fitzgerald took matters into his own hands to save a life.
Professor Fitzgerald loaded up his own car with everything he’d need to perform surgery and with neurosurgeon Jordan Jones, raced up the highway to an arranged meeting point – the car park of a McDonald’s near the Calder motorsport park.
The patient, Nic Gligorovski, just hours earlier had lost control of his car while driving along the Calder Highway after hitting black ice.
He was taken to Bendigo Hospital, where it was decided he needed an urgent transfer to The Alfred for surgery to drain the blood, however thick fog trapped the Ambulance Victoria helicopter on the launch pad.
Time was running out. Mr Gligorovski had been given a drug to shrink his brain for about 40 minutes to last the flight, but it was rapidly wearing off. With each passing moment his brain was getting squashed by the blood.
But the two determined men weren’t about the let distance stop them saving a life and managed to make it to the car park in time.
“When we got there the patient was positioned to be sitting up, he was well anaesthetised and the paramedic had shaved the right side of his scalp… he’d done an excellent job,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“We jumped into the back of the ambulance and drilled two burr holes into the head, which is intended to drain the blood,
“We were looking to drain more than 250 millilitres of blood over about three minutes.”
Against all the odds, it worked. Mr Gligorovski blood pressure returned to normal, allowing the paramedics to continue driving him to The Alfred for more thorough surgery.
Mr Gligorovski spent the next four weeks in hospital in a coma where Professor Fitzgerald admits it was touch and go.
But once again, against all odds, Mr Gligorovski awoke and just as amazingly, was able to think and talk just as he could prior to the accident.
“He made a remarkable recovery. It’s quite amazing just how well he was able to do so. It’s a testament to his will to survive.”