Paralyzed Gymnast Walks Again After Hypothermia Treatment
On February 3, 2011, longtime gymnast Jorge Valdes was performing one of his more difficult tricks – a double flip with a twist – when things went terribly wrong. Jorge landed on his head, dislocating his neck.
“I was fully conscious, but I couldn’t feel my legs or my chest,” Jorge said. “I was in so much pain. It was like fire running through my body.”
Jorge was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center. The medical team determined he had fractured and dislocated a vertebra in his neck and Jorge was rushed into the operating room.
Dr. Steven Vanni, a UHealth/Jackson neurosurgeon at Ryder Trauma, removed a disc between the vertebrae, replaced it with a bone graft, plate and screws and popped the vertebra back into position to decompress the spinal cord.
Simultaneously, Jorge was administered hypothermia treatment through a cooling catheter that lowers the body temperature to 33 degrees Celsius and reduces swelling on the spinal cord. The hypothermia treatment continued for 48 hours, while Jorge was in a medically-induced coma.
When Jorge awoke, he was only able to move the fingers on his left hand. Doctors and nurses told him he would probably walk again, but that it would likely take at least a year – and intense physical therapy.
Determined to prove his medical team wrong, Jorge laid in his hospital bed, continuously focused on trying to move different body parts. Within a few days, he was able to move his hands, his arms and his toes.
A week after his fall, Jorge was discharged from Jackson Memorial Hospital – walking.
May. 1970 Jackson History
Victims of McDuffie Riots Flood Emergency Room. Link opens story page.
In 1980, Jackson Memorial Hospital‘s emergency room was flooded with 200 patients injured during the McDuffie riots.Explore in story page.
Aug. 1992 Miracle Stories
Ryder Trauma Center Opens Weeks before Hurricane Andrew Hits South Florida. Link opens story page.
Thanks to charitable donation by the Ryder System Charitable Foundation, Jackson’s Ryder Trauma Center opened its doors on August 1992 – weeks before Hurricane Andrew devastated South Miami-Dade County.Explore in story page.
Jan. 2008 Medical Firsts
Treating Hypothermia from Within. Link opens story page.
In 2008, UHealth/Jackson surgeons became the first in the world to use an internal warming method to prevent hypothermia during burn surgery.Explore in story page.