Steven Held’s sense of adventure is going strong after advanced neurosurgery saved his life
“Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him … I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
As Martha Held waited to board the Minneapolis–Dallas flight that would bring her home, she never stopped praying Psalm 91. Her younger son, Steven, then only 18, had been in a near-fatal Jet Ski accident and now lay in the neurocritical care unit at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. It was hard to believe that only hours, not days, had passed since she’d gotten the phone call.
“At first I was confused and wondered why they wouldn’t just bring him to the hospital near our home in Plano,” she says. “I didn’t realize there was a difference between a trauma hospital and a regular hospital.”
Methodist Dallas’ role as a level II adult trauma center played a key role in saving Steven Held’s life that day.
“If I had a loved one who had a trauma or an injury, I’d be the first to take them to Methodist Dallas — not because I work there, but because this is what they know and this is what they see,” says Nimesh Patel, MD, independently practicing neurosurgeon on the medical staff at the hospital. “They have an instinct. They see a trauma and know how to take care of it.”
Tragedy on the water
On that Labor Day weekend back in 2009, Steven Held, a college freshman, was enjoying the water at Lake Kiowa with friends when the unimaginable happened: One of them accidentally ran over Steven Held with a Jet Ski, knocking him unconscious. His friends pulled him from the water and brought him to shore.
“I touched the back of my head and saw blood all over my hand,” he says.
After a CareFlite helicopter transported him to Methodist Dallas, a CT scan revealed that the impact of the watercraft had shattered the back of Steven Held’s skull, embedding glasslike shards of bone in his brain. One shard in particular was near a major artery. If the artery was torn, it would cause instant death. The skull fragments had the potential to damage the brain, and the open wound put him at risk for infection.
“Dr. Patel said he had to operate, and the room started to spin,” says Steven Held’s father, Michael Held. “It was that moment of reckoning when you realize it’s a really touchy situation, that we might actually lose him.”
During the four-hour brain operation, Dr. Patel removed most of the pieces of skull but chose to leave a piece embedded near the artery, knowing that removing it could open a “Pandora’s box” of complications. He also placed a titanium plate over the opening in the skull for additional protection.
Over the next week in neurocritical care, test after test showed Steven Held’s progress.
“Once I felt secure he wasn’t going to have a postoperative stroke or infection, then the sky was the limit in terms of what he wants to do,” Dr. Patel says.
Steven Held didn’t wait long to push that limit. Less than three weeks after his accident, he was back at school and, remarkably, finished the semester with B’s and an A.
“Four months after the operation, he was asking how much it costs to skydive,” Martha Held says, resigned to her son’s adrenaline junkie ways.
Yes, the 21-year-old snowboards (wearing a helmet, of course) and hikes, and he even scaled a 13,000-foot mountain in Colorado one summer.
“I just thank God that I’m alive,” he says. “Life is such a blessing.”
We’re taking our trauma capabilities at Methodist Dallas even highER. Learn more at www.MethodistHealthSystem.org/BrightER.
From the winter 2012 edition of Shine magazine.