Orthopedic Trauma at University Medical Center Of El Paso

Andrew is 54 years old. He loves to fly his ultralight airplane. One weekend he was at the Horizon Airport. On the last landing he was 15 feet above the runway when a gust of wind took him off the runway. Andrew crashed into a ¾-ton pickup. “The first thing in an Ultralight airplane is the pilot, so with my body I totaled that truck,” said Andrew. “I look down and see my left foot pointed in the wrong direction. I could see the bone sticking out from the torn pants so I applied a tourniquet.”

Due to the impact, Andrew suffered an open book pelvic fracture, the ulna bone in his left arm was shattered into pieces, a butterfly break in his left femur bone, fracture in his left tibia, and his left foot was turned 180 degrees. Luckily someone came to render help and called 9-1-1.

“By that time I had bled-out, I lost consciousness. I did regain consciousness briefly when the EMT (Emergency medical technician) guys were trying to get me extricated from the wreckage.”

Andrew was taken to University Medical Center’s Level 1 Scherr Legate Trauma Center, the only hospital in the region that can treat severe orthopedic level 1 trauma 24/7.

Because of the severe injuries to Andrew's left leg, doctors were seriously thinking of amputation. Dr. Amr Abdelgawad, Orthopedic Surgeon at UMC decided to take his case and try to save his lower limb.

“I remember it was something around 10 to 11 hour surgery,” said Doctor Abdelgawad with a humbled grin, remembering the day of the surgery. “I remember going outside (of the operating room) after the surgery and talked to the wife and family. It was definitely a very extensive procedure. After that we did multiple extensive procedures.”

Because Andrew some of Andrew’s bone in his femur was dead, Dr. Abdelgawad did a procedure called “bone transport”. This procedure is done by cutting the bone and separating it from each other to create new bone. Due to this procedure, Dr. Abdelgawad was able to create about six centimeters of new bone inside Andrew’s leg.

Andrew is very aware about how important was to have UMC taking care of him. “Had they removed the leg, I would probably have recovered faster, but I would have not be walking like I am today. As far as I’m concerned, I’m glad UMC was here and Dr. Abdelgawad was part of the staff that was looking on me.”

University Medical Center's Orthopedic Trauma Team has surgeons to cover hand, microsurgery and flap cases, including finger replantation, limb lengthening and reconstruction and sport's injuries. According to Dr. Abdelgawad, the orthopedic department is in the final process of hiring another surgeon for joint replacement.

This year, UMC Foundation funded a Hanna Table for orthopedic trauma surgeries. This table was made possible through a gracious gift from the Scherr-Legate Trauma Center Fund.

“The wonderful Hana table that we recently got from the UMC Foundation has been wonderful in treating patients with both hip fractures as well as patients who need ancillary hip replacements,” said Doctor Adam Adler, Orthopedic surgeon at UMC. “Often patients are able to leave the day after the surgery which may not been possible with other tables.”

University Medical Center of El Paso is the only hospital in El Paso that every day an orthopedic trauma surgeon is on call.