Sunday, November 13, 2005

Emergency Neurosurgery in Montana

From the Grand Forks Herald:

SIDNEY, Mont. - What little boy hasn't bonked his head on a coffee table or a staircase or a kitchen chair? Kids roughhouse. They get bruised. They bounce back.

Carter Engstrom is no different. At home in Sidney, the boisterous 4-year-old plays hard with his little brother, Grant, and five cousins, all boys.

When Carter conked his ear on the corner of the television stand three weeks ago, his parents weren't worried.

"He said, `Look at my ear, Mommy. I got an ouchie!'" said his mother, Annie Engstrom. "It was not a big deal at all."

Within 15 hours, though, Carter lay unconscious in an operating room at the Sidney Health Center. A blood clot was pressing dangerously against his brain.

There are no neurosurgeons in eastern Montana, but there is Dr. Ed Bergin, who has been Sidney's general surgeon for the past 25 years.

"It was either do it or lose him," said Bergin, who drilled a series of holes in Carter's skull to relieve pressure and drain away blood. "You just have to grab the bull by the horns. You step out of the box and out of your comfort zone and do it."

By all accounts, Bergin saved the boy's life, although he is reluctant to acknowledge it.

"All of this publicity is a little embarrassing for me," he said. "I'm just the average general surgeon. I'm no superstar I go home and take the garbage out like everyone else."


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