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How a Google Search and Emergency Surgery Saved a Teen's Life

Thursday, Dec 26, 2013

Something was terribly wrong with Brice. He turned to the internet, then his family turned to Doylestown Hospital, to help save his life.

Pattie Beakley knew something was wrong when her son, Brice, 15, went to bed early that night.

The Tohickon Middle School ninth-grader and 6-foot-tall defensive end had the wind knocked out of him at football practice. Brice didn't go right to sleep – he used an iPad to Google his symptoms: upper abdominal pain and left shoulder pain.

When he went downstairs to talk to his dad, Pattie knew it was something big. Brice learned that left shoulder pain indicated a possible spleen injury. He didn't really know what a spleen was until then.

"Now we know," says Pattie, recalling the events. "You could have saved your own life," she tells her son.

The spleen, located above the stomach on the left side, helps fight infection and also control the amount of blood in the body. A ruptured spleen causes abdominal pain and pain in the left shoulder, which shares nerves with the diaphragm. Without emergency treatment, a ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

Pattie took Brice to the Doylestown Hospital Emergency Department around 10:30 p.m. General surgeon Cyrus Morgan, MD, was called in. Quick thinking and cooperation between the ED and surgical staff expedited the process, and Brice went into surgery to remove his spleen (splenectomy).

He did well, and Pattie was pleased with the care the family received and the fact they were kept well informed during the entire process. Brice has to be extra careful about vaccinations now that he has no spleen, but otherwise he's doing great. He is busy with school, running track and playing guitar.

"He won't be playing football anymore," adds his mom.

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