Child gets lifesaving care after ruptured appendix

UC Davis

Seth Hanson just wasn’t feeling any better.

For weeks, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea plagued the 11-year-old. Trips to the pediatrician and the local emergency room weren’t helping much.

“They ruled out appendicitis and told us it was some sort of flu,” Seth’s mom, Josephine, recalled. “They said it could take weeks to get better.”

But it never did.

On New Year’s Day, Seth’s parents returned with their son for a third time to their nearest emergency room. He was sicker than ever and doctors couldn’t figure out what the problem was. His parents decided to transfer Seth to UC Davis Children’s Hospital where a pediatric care team immediately went to work.

“From the minute we arrived, there was such a difference,” Hanson said. Only a few hours later, the dilemma was solved: a ruptured appendix. Seth was wheeled into surgery. “I was in tears … but the doctor assured me, ‘I am going to take care of Seth like he is my own child. He will be OK.'”

Jonathan Kohler

Appendicitis is usually a fairly simple surgical problem, but Seth is proof that sometimes even simple diagnoses can require complex care. Our team of pediatric surgeons and nurse practitioners, together with our pediatric nurses and other pediatric subspecialists, took great care of Seth and his family. He had one of the most complicated cases of advanced appendicitis that any of us had ever seen.”-Jonathan Kohler

Surgeons removed his appendix, which was the start of a very long recovery compared with most appendectomies. Infection had invaded other areas of Seth’s digestive tract. Additional complications arose due to how long the problem had festered.

“Appendicitis is usually a fairly simple surgical problem, but Seth is proof that sometimes even simple diagnoses can require complex care,” said UC Davis pediatric general surgeon Jonathan Kohler. “Our team of pediatric surgeons and nurse practitioners, together with our pediatric nurses and other pediatric subspecialists, took great care of Seth and his family. He had one of the most complicated cases of advanced appendicitis that any of us had ever seen.”

Grateful for the gift of good health

Five weeks and two additional surgeries later, Seth was well enough to come home from the hospital.

Seth with Jonathan Kohler in clinic
Seth gave Jonathan Kohler a thank you card for providing care that saved his life.

“I truly believe if our son had stayed at the previous hospital, he probably would have died,” Hanson said. “His UC Davis Health care team was relentless to get on top of the real cause. I knew we were in the right place.”

This Thanksgiving, Seth and his family have much to be grateful for, especially for the lifesaving care that was available at a moment’s notice for their son.

“You may feel you have a situation that is insurmountable, wondering if your loved one will even survive. We can tell you that UC Davis Health understands. Their team can do amazing things, incredible stuff. Don’t give up!” Hanson said.

Seth has happily returned to normal life, riding bikes, camping and going to school.

“One of the great pleasures of this job is seeing a child who was once critically ill walk into our clinic looking transformed – and that’s all the more true when you’ve had weeks to get to know the patient and their family in the hospital,” Kohler said. “Helping kids get back to being kids again is what we’re all about.”

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