“He showed us the scan and said, ‘Look, you almost broke the spinal cord,’ and he showed us how pinched it was. It was scary.”
Craig started crying, and his wife and boys were crying. Then Dr. Ellison couldn’t force back his own tears.
“Yeah, I…it was emotional,” Dr. Ellison says. “There was just such fear, disbelief and uncertainty on their faces. The boys were crying and when they left the room, Craig says, ‘I’m supposed to be their hero.’”
Remembering the time his own father had taken him to Disney World in 1972, Dr. Ellison understood how important the trip was to the family.
Craig was admitted to the critical care unit, where he lay still until surgery could be performed the next day. Dr. Ellison pulled a team together to perform the surgery that Saturday, a day when the office is typically closed.
“Our spine team volunteered to come in that day to their tremendous credit,” Dr. Ellison says. “It was a team effort that came together to get things taken care of urgently.”
Tidelands Health neurosurgeon Dr. M. Daniel Eggart volunteered to help with the operation, as did instrument workers, ICU nurses, an anesthesia team and spine team members Melissa Cribb and Mary Lou Noon, Dr. Ellison says.
Dr. Ellison performed two successful surgeries. He entered the front of Craig’s neck to remove the ruptured disc and stabilize the neck with a graft and a plate. A second surgery to the back of Craig’s neck further stabilized his neck with rods and screws in the C6 and C7 vertebrae.