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Rescued from death

Medical College physicians save nine-year-old run over by truck

Thomas Sato, MD, and Jessica KleinNine-year-old Jessica Klein of Port Washington was riding her bike to a friend’s house on the first day of summer vacation when a garbage truck hit her and dragged her 20 feet.  A local ambulance crew transported her to St. Mary’s Hospital in Ozaukee; the Emergency Department staff there promptly called the trauma team from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  Standing by were eight Medical College physicians.

“When I first met Dr. Sato, he told me, ‘I don’t think your daughter has a survivable injury,’” said Debra Klein, Jessica’s mother.  Jessica’s pelvis was crushed.  She lost over 35% of her skin.  The blood supply to her left leg had been cut off for hours.

Thomas Sato, MD, a pediatric general surgeon, called in pediatric orthopaedic, cardiovascular and plastic surgeons and personally coordinated Jessica’s care.  “Dr. Sato saw her through everything,” Debra said.  “He made sure we knew who everyone was and explained things so we could understand them.”

"Dr. Sato saw her through everything. He made sure we knew who everyone was and explained things so we could understand them."

Jessica spent a total of five months in the hospital, accompanied by her mother and father, Robert, a John Deere employee.  For a while, she was in and out of surgery nearly every other day.  “When you’re in a situation like that, the doctors become more than just doctors; they become your friends.  Dr. Sato even brought Jessy a gift on her birthday,” Debra said. Her long hospitalization and recovery was supported by expert pediatric nursing care, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

Over 40 surgeries later, the girl who was not expected to live or ever walk again, has grown into a teenager who walks independently with some prosthetic assistance.


Medical College physicians staff the Trauma Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
  • Only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in eastern Wisconsin ensures the best outcomes for trauma patients.  Level I designation requires that at least two pediatric-trained orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, pediatric surgeons and emergency medicine physicians provide 24/7 care.  Physicians are leaders in injury prevention, research and education.
  • Developed and implemented a blood clot prevention program that has dramatically reduced the number of blood clots in pediatric trauma patients.  Blood clots can cause additional pain, damage and expense.  Fewer complications mean a shorter length of stay and reduced costs.
  • Developed guidelines to reduce unnecessary operations, preserve organ function and decrease the rate of follow-up imaging following blunt liver and spleen injuries. Hospitalization has been decreased by two days for pediatric patients with a liver or spleen injury. Surgery has been avoided for blunt liver injuries 99% of the time, spleen injuries 93%, and kidney injuries 100% of the time.
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 07/23/2013