Celebrating successful recovery after rare spine injury
Micah Andrews was in a car accident when he was just two years old and, even though he was strapped safely into his car seat, he sustained a rare injury known commonly as internal decapitation.
He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Trauma Center, where he was unresponsive upon his arrival and not expected to survive.
“Immediately after the accident, I remember holding his little head still, waiting for the ambulance to come,” said Heather Andrews, Micah’s mom. “He was unconscious and his breathing was labored, but I knew you were never supposed to move a child’s head, so that was my priority.”
Micah was diagnosed with occipitoatlantal dislocation, in which the upper cervical spine becomes detached from the skull, a highly unstable and critical injury that often leads to death.
Neurosurgeons saved Micah’s life by using a surgical technique perfected at Barrow to reattach his spine to his head.
“Micah’s injury is almost universally fatal. When someone suffers this type of injury, the head and spine are so very unstable that even gentle movement can lead to death,” said Nicholas Theodore, MD, Micah’s neurosurgeon at Barrow. “At Barrow, we have one of the world’s largest group of survivors with this injury."
Barrow neurosurgeons used a titanium rod and wires along with a piece of Micah’s own rib to reattach his head with his spine. He spent more than two months at St. Joseph’s and then went to outpatient rehabilitation at the hospital.
Micah has made a remarkable recovery and recently, during his annual check up, Theodore, along with other physicians and staff, surprised him with a seventh birthday party filled with cake, presents and lots of hugs.
“We love Barrow and Dr. Theodore," says Heather. "Micah and Dr. Theodore have such a special relationship, their bond is like no other.”