Jacobi Doctors Put Patient Back Together After Train Nearly Severs Body in Half
HEALTH– Few people can say they survived being hit by a train, especially after sustaining severe traumatic injury. But thanks to the Trauma Center team at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, 36-year-old Phillip Buffone can, although he has no memory of it or the three weeks that followed.
On September 25, Mr. Buffone was waiting for his train at the Yonkers Metro North station, when he became dizzy, fell onto the tracks, and was hit by an oncoming train.
When EMS brought him to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, Buffone‘s injuries were so severe that his body appeared to have been nearly severed in half. Life-threatening lacerations extended laterally from his spine around to his front, exposing his intestines. He also had significant damage to his colon and small bowel, and sustained multiple rib fractures, leg fractures, and nerve damage to one arm.
“We rushed Mr. Buffone right to the OR,” said trauma team surgeon Dr. Srinivas Reddy, “and, contrary to what you might expect, closing the huge laceration that nearly divided him in two was not the first priority. Repairing the internal damage and preventing infection from all that was introduced to his body were priorities. So, we washed out his abdomen, reconstructed his small bowel, and removed a portion of his colon first. We also inserted a shunt to maintain blood flow down his badly damaged left leg to his foot. Following these repairs, we then undertook a complicated closure of the major lacerations. It wasn’t easy, and he required 25 units of blood to make it through the repairs. I’m still amazed he’s alive.”
Mr. Buffone would remain heavily sedated and on a ventilator for three weeks to minimize his movements, thereby preventing the complex reconstruction of his abdomen from falling apart.
After being brought out of sedation, he spent an additional two weeks receiving rehabilitation in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, under the care of Drs. John Bliton and Zachary Sharfman.
“Once we got Mr. Buffone in the SICU, we worked to help him recuperate and stabilize his vital signs,” explained Dr. Bliton. “We were then able to support healing of the rib fractures and scheduled additional surgeries to fix the broken bones in his leg and return the blood supply to his left side extremities,” explained Dr. Bliton.
“The entire Surgical Intensive Care Unit got to know and care for Mr. Buffone,” said Dr. Sharfman. “He was intubated and sedated for approximately three weeks with an injury that few would survive. Once the breathing tube was removed and he woke up, we got to witness his miraculous recovery that the entire trauma surgery team, orthopaedic surgery team, plastic surgery team, and surgical intensive care unit fought so hard for.”
“The doctors and nurses at Jacobi were great,” said Mr. Buffone, who wanted to share the graphic photo of how he was brought in to credit those who saved him. “I was almost cut completely in half, and they saved my life. They actually taught me how to walk again. I can’t say enough about them.”
On November 2, 2017, Philip had recovered enough to be transferred for rehabilitation to a facility near his home, in White Plains, New York.
“The fact that Mr. Buffone was able to walk out of our doors and go to rehab is nothing short of a miracle,” said Dr. Reddy. “But this is the kind of work our trauma team trains for and stands ready to provide every single day. After some accidents, we literally are able to put people back together again.”