Hunter Showers, like most 15-year-olds, loves to sled in fresh snow and show-off in front of his younger brother. On March 9, 2019, while Hunter was sledding at his aunt and uncle’s house in Haneyville, something unexpected happened.
“I wanted to be the first down the hill,” Hunter said. “I was heading toward an old tractor, so I put my foot down to stop myself, and then my brother went by me.”
Hunter’s mom, Amber, said that is when Hunter knew something was wrong. He couldn’t stand up—something happened to his right leg.
Severe Pain Needed Quick Action
Hunter’s uncle was quick to act and decided to leave Hunter’s snow pants and boots on so Amber could be the first to look at his leg. On the way home, Hunter’s uncle realized Hunter was in severe pain, so he headed straight to UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven.
Amber recalls, “When they arrived at the Emergency Department, the first thing they did was get him some pain relief. The pain was so bad he couldn’t even sit in a wheelchair.”
X-rays showed Hunter had broken his leg in several places and would need surgery. The Emergency Department (ED) team fitted Hunter with a fiberglass splint to keep his leg in place, and scheduled him to see a surgeon the following Monday morning.
Amber wanted Wingrove T. Jarvis, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, to perform Hunter’s surgery. Dr. Jarvis informed them he would need surgery. Hunter broke his tibia and fibula bones in three places, and had a triplane fracture in his ankle.
“His tibia was shattered, but his fibula had clean fractures,” says Amber. “Dr. Jarvis wanted a CT scan to prepare for surgery, and that’s when he found the fracture in Hunter’s ankle. It’s a good thing he did the scan, because he needed extra hardware and an implant for the surgery.”
Hunter has a history of malignant hyperthermia—a severe reaction to certain medications used during general anesthesia. To be safe, Dr. Jarvis decided the surgery would take place at UPMC Williamsport Regional Medical Center, where there was a team of anesthesiologists familiar with the condition to assist with the surgery.
Dr. Jarvis scheduled surgery two days after the office visit. Hunter and his entire extended family went to Williamsport for the surgery, and because of his history of malignant hyperthermia, the surgery took eight hours.
“Every two hours, like clockwork, we would get an update on the surgery,” says Amber. “We would hear what they are doing, what they have done, and how they thought the surgery was progressing. It helped us all get through that time.”
Hunter wasn’t scared during this entire experience—he was mainly worried about his future in baseball. As captain of his high school baseball team, Hunter lives and breathes baseball.
“I’ve played baseball since I was four years old,” said Hunter. “I just wanted Dr. Jarvis to fix me so I could play ball again.”
Hunter only had to spend one day in the hospital, but it only took one day for the staff to make a lasting impression on Amber and the rest of the family.
“Going to UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven and getting to see Dr. Jarvis was the best decision we ever made,” said Amber. “He has called me in the evening, on the weekend, and calls my cell phone directly. Then, the care in Williamsport was fantastic.”
Hunter continues to see Dr. Jarvis once a month, and will start physical therapy once he can bear weight on his leg. Even though Hunter has broken a bone or two before, he was anxious to get back to baseball.
Throughout the entire process, Amber has been impressed with how the UPMC staff cared for her son. She said, “Everyone included Hunter in the decisions. They didn’t just speak to me, they spoke directly to him. They were very careful to explain everything, and they never ignored his voice. They are helping him with his goal to return to baseball.”