Standing Tall and Still Smiling After Traumatic Injuries

From an interview with
Dr. Lex Hanna
McLeod Orthopaedics Florence

In a June 2023 study published in ScienceDirect related to traumatic orthopedic motor vehicle injuries, statistics show that injuries caused by road traffic have become the leading cause of death in people ages 5 to 29 years. 

Carlie Yates, a former McLeod Health orthopedic patient, says she’s lucky to have survived a head-on collision in 2022, when she sustained 14 broken bones and underwent five subsequent surgeries. The following is an excerpt from her story in the Spring 2023 edition of McLeod Magazine.

“On the morning of Thursday, March 2, 2022, Carlie Yates, a resident of Mullins, SC, was traveling to her job at MUSC, where she worked as a receptionist in multiple doctors’ offices. Carlie was coming around a curve when, suddenly, a car traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line and hit her head-on at approximately 55 miles per hour. With no time to react, Carlie’s vehicle bore the brunt of the impact and ended up in a ditch. Witnesses quickly called EMS and within minutes, the police, firefighters and an ambulance were on the scene.

They extracted Carlie from her car, and she was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Department at McLeod Regional Medical Center. Dr. Lex Hanna, an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon at MRMC, performed surgery that evening. Afterward, Carlie was transferred to the ICU where she would remain for nine days.

“Carlie sustained numerous traumatic fractures that would ultimately require five trips to the operating room and many hours of surgery during her hospital stay,” says Dr. Hanna. “In the initial two surgeries, we focused on stabilization of her long bone fractures with a combination of early fixation and external stabilization, a practice known as ‘damage control orthopedics,’ which is often employed in patients who have multiple traumatic injuries. The next three surgeries addressed her less-severe fractures as our focus shifted from stabilization to treatment, after which healing and rehabilitation could begin.”

Carlie sustained 14 broken bones from the accident, including her left elbow, her pelvis in the front and back, both femurs (thigh bones), the right tibia shaft, her right kneecap, four toes in her left foot, and a complex fracture of her left ankle and tibia known as a pilon fracture. It left Carlie with about five inches of bone missing in her left leg.

“Dr. Hanna spent a lot of time with me throughout my stay at McLeod. He made decisions about my surgeries that showed me he really cared about me as a person and wanted my recovery to be successful,” recalls Carlie.

After three weeks in the hospital, Carlie was discharged home on March 24. Her family modified their home to accommodate her recovery.

“We were worried that Carlie would never walk again, and yet she has defied the odds and continues to make great strides with every week and month that passes since her accident,” says her mother, Sommer Ford.

Click here to read the full story and to learn how Carlie’s recovery is progressing.