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Doctor credits his life to trauma system he helped create

Dr. Todd Maxson was riding his motorcycle when he attempted to merge onto I-630 and a car clipped him, sending him flying. The result - a broken arm, a shattered right femur and shattered pelvis. (KATV Photo)

He still has a long road to recovery, but Dr. Todd Maxson said he likely wouldn't be alive or in as good of shape is he's in now if it weren't for the state's trauma system he helped establish.

It had been a long day of surgery for Maxson, the chief of trauma at Children's Hospital and professor of surgery at UAMS. Maxson was still on-call but was able to head home when tragedy struck.

"I left the hospital and on the way home I was struck by a car," said Maxson.

Maxson was riding his motorcycle when he attempted to merge onto I-630 and a car clipped him, sending him flying. The result - a broken arm, a shattered right femur and shattered pelvis.

"I was bleeding to death," recalled Maxson.

Two good samaritans, "angels" as Maxson called them, came to his assistance after he was hit. One called 911 - Maxson had the other call Children's Hospital to let them know they'd need back up at the hospital, as he was sure he wouldn't be returning anytime soon.

While he knew his injuries were significant, Maxson also knew that the paramedics that came to assist him and the team of doctors and nurses that cared for him were well equipped and ready within minutes to save his life. The reason they were able to save his life - the promptness provided by the state's trauma system.

"That's what happens at a level one trauma center," said Maxson. "That's why communities must have a level one trauma center. People like me just don't survive if you have to call people in from home to get that type of rapid response."

"That team was assembled, they're knowledgable - I've helped educate all of them that were in that room and it came back to benefit me personally."

If staff members at UAMS weren't students of his, they likely received some sort of trauma training from Maxson through his role as a trauma consultant for the Arkansas Department of Health. Dr. Anna Privratsky, a trauma surgeon on the floor the night Maxson came in, was a student and resident under the guidance of Maxson.

"I think as a trauma surgeon especially, there's not much that kind of shakes you," said Privratsky. "I think that's the one of the things that really shakes you is to know that somebody that you know is coming into the trauma bay."

Amid high nerves, Privratsky said it's a testament to the training doled out by Dr. Maxson that helped ensure they could save his life and the lives many countless others.

Since Arkansas's trauma system was introduced, the number of preventable injury-related deaths have been cut in half.

Maxson has been ordered to stay off of his feet for the next three months and will undergo several more surgeries before he can start rehabilitation. The doctor said he hopes to be back on the job by the beginning of the summer - the busiest time for pediatric trauma.

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