The summer following fifth grade, Declan was riding his bike around his neighborhood when he crashed and fell into the handlebars.
“First responders knew right away that something wasn’t right and called for an airlift to Rady Children’s,” says Declan’s dad, Chris.
Rady Children’s Trauma Medical Director and pediatric surgeon Romeo Ignacio Jr., MD, and his team immediately took Declan into surgery to identify the source of the severe bleeding and impaired consciousness caused by the accident.
“After three back-to-back surgeries within his first couple of days in the hospital, Dr. Ignacio found that the way Declan fell into the handlebars had punctured the main artery that supplies blood to the liver,” Chris says.
One function of the liver is to coagulate blood, and damage to this function had significantly thinned Declan’s blood.
“The internal bleeding was catastrophic,” says his dad. “He went through an amount of blood that exceeded six adult humans’ worth.”
Declan was medically sedated for five days as he underwent a total of five surgeries to stop the extensive bleeding and address scarring that occurred as his liver began to heal.
“When he woke up, he was thankfully 100% coherent,” Chris says. “He wanted to get out of bed. He wanted to do everything.”
After just over a month receiving physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy at Rady Children’s, Declan was cleared to return home and has been steadily making a full recovery since.
Among his greatest wishes this holiday season is returning to Rady Children’s to visit with all the nurses who cared for him. “They were super nice,” Declan says.
Declan’s parents were similarly touched by the life-changing experience. “Everybody who cared for him—right from the beginning—was truly special,” says his dad. “It was clear they all had a common goal: to facilitate Declan’s healing.”
Returning to soccer is at the top of Declan’s current to-do list. Further down the line, he also envisions becoming a doctor. With Declan happy and healthy following all he has gone through, his parents’ greatest wish has already come true.
Rady Children’s Emergency Care Center is the only designated pediatric trauma center serving the San Diego region’s 1 million children. Its expert team of emergency clinicians cares for 86,000 children and families experiencing serious medical needs each year. Philanthropic support makes possible lifesaving emergency treatment as well as research advancements. It is also enabling expansion of the department to ensure it is equipped to meet the needs of generations to come.