On a beautiful summer day in August of 2011, Jason Flood, a 21-year-old banner pilot from Franklinville, was about to pick up an advertising banner to fly along the New Jersey shoreline when something went drastically wrong. He missed the banner and his plane crashed, shattering it into pieces.
Paramedics raced to the scene and saw his hand beneath the rubble. He was rushed to the local hospital for emergency surgery and was then flown to Cooper for additional life saving surgeries and recovery under the guidance of the Cooper Trauma team. His mother Janet said, “We didn’t even know if he would make the helicopter flight.”
This is the story of his journey from wreckage to flight.
This remarkable story was featured on more than 100 news organizations throughout the world including CNN, BBC, Reuters, Good Morning America, The Today Show and 6ABC/Philadelphia!
“I had done it a thousand times,” said Dennis Hennis, a self-employed construction professional. “The nail gun got jammed and when I turned it to fix it, the gun went off and shot the nail directly into my chest.”
He turned to his son who was working beside him that day as they built a patio roof for a neighbor and said, “Call 911, I don’t think I am going to make it.”
Within minutes the ambulance arrived and transported Mr. Hennis, 52, of Vineland, New Jersey, to the nearest emergency department at South Jersey Regional Hospital where doctors inserted a catheter around the heart to drain the blood. The severity of the injury was apparent and he needed to be transferred to Cooper University Hospital, the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving all of South Jersey.
The fog was thick that afternoon and they would have to transport him by ambulance because the helicopter was unable to fly. While in the ambulance, Mr. Hennis went into cardiac arrest. Emergency personnel performed CPR on Mr. Hennis and turned the ambulance back to the hospital to stabilize him. By the time they got back, the fog had remarkably cleared and Mr. Hennis was then flown by helicopter to Cooper.
“We had the advantage of time in this case because of the transfer so we could assemble our trauma, anesthesia and cardiac surgery team in the specified cardiac operating room equipped with heart/lung bypass capabilities,” said Raymond H. Green, DO, trauma surgeon on service that afternoon. “When he arrived by chopper, we immediately took him into surgery. He had three episodes of cardiac arrests by the time he arrived and we knew this required immediate surgery.”
The life-saving CPR had damaged the hole in his heart further, exacerbating the trauma to the heart and making the small hole, much bigger.
Through the ordeal, Mr. Hennis had held onto the nail and emergency personnel then secured it in place with tape. “He knew to not remove the nail which could have caused him to bleed out. This was also life saving,” said Michael Rosenbloom, MD, Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery.
During the surgery, after repairing the hole in Mr. Hennis’ heart, he again went into cardiac arrest. At that point, Dr. Rosenbloom made the decision to place Mr. Hennis on the heart/lung bypass machine. After the two-hour surgery, Mr. Hennis’s heart was now beating strong, his chest was closed and he was heading to the Trauma ICU.
“The interplay of many different and complex factors had to occur exactly the way they did for him to have survived,” said Dr. Rosenbloom
A few days after surgery, Mr. Hennis met his surgeons. (see video below)
“I am so grateful,” said Mr. Hennis. “I don’t know why I survived, but someone has a plan for me.”
Six days after his accident, Mr. Hennis was released from the hospital and was resting at home.
“I had a grandson a few weeks ago, born on my birthday. I look forward to sharing our birthday’s together for years to come,” said Mr. Hennis.
“If one part of this situation were to have fallen a different way, this man would probably not be here. The stars aligned for him, and we are proud to have been a part of it.” remarked Dr. Green.
6ABC/Philadelphia “Action News” recently featured the story of Tori Shendock of Marlton, New Jersey. She was involved in a serious car accident on July 31, 2009, just minutes after leaving her shift as an intern at Cooper.
Tori had no pulse when she was pulled from her burning car and was choppered to Cooper with five broken ribs, a broken leg, and a severe rupture in the main artery of her heart. She ended up spending five weeks in the trauma intensive care unit, including a week in which her chest remained open with her heart exposed to allow it to heal properly.
Two years later, she returned to Cooper to throw a banquet for the entire Trauma Unit staff, including the doctor who held her heart in her hands, physically pumping it as it stopped beating twice during surgery.
Click below to view the complete story from Action News.
My daughter, Juliana Medeirus, was in a car accident on November 13, 2010.
After taking the full brunt of a telephone pole on the driver’s side, her three year-old son, Timmy, walked away with barely a scratch thanks to his car seat. Juliana, however, was choppered to Cooper with two collapsed lungs, a broken sternum, broken ribs, a broken lumbar, four breaks in her pelvis and a broken jaw. She was immediately taken to the operating room and had her spleen taken out, a lacerated liver repaired and a leaking vein brought under control thanks to her skilled surgeons.
Within a day of not waking up, Juliana was found to have Diffused Axonal Injury (shearing of the brain) and will have a long recovery ahead of her. Just weeks later, though, we are happy to report that she is now in rehab, awake, recognizing us and ALIVE! COOPER SAVED HER LIFE!
Lee Solomon, a former state superior judge, county and federal prosecutor, county freeholder and state assemblyman, sustained life-threatening injuries from a biking injury near Lenape High School in Medford, New Jersey, on September 13, 2009.
With two, separate injuries to his brain and a hip fracture, he spent the next three weeks in Cooper’s Trauma Center and then returned to Cooper recently for hip replacement surgery.
Now, a year later, he is back to his demanding career as President of the Board of Public Utilities for the state, and spending time with family – thankful for life. Here, he recounts the accident and shares his experience with Steven E. Ross, MD, and Tara N. Cassidy-Smith, MD.