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The Girl Who Was Hit By a Truck: Surviving Major Trauma in Rural Cambodia

When 5-year old Chantrea arrived at the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) she was in a critical condition, and it seemed unlikely she would survive her injuries. While riding her bike to school in Sotnikum District she was crushed by an out of control truck. Chantrea’s injuries were so severe that her initial prognosis was very poor. Unconscious, she had multiple fractures including an open distal femur fracture, where the thigh bone had broken through the skin and muscle was visible. Her grandmother rushed her directly to the AHC Satellite Clinic where our staff stabilised her condition, performed a blood transfusion and administered pain medication.

The Satellite Ambulance transferred Chantrea to AHC where she was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and rushed to surgery. In addition to the femur fracture she had a number of severe orthopedic injuries including a pelvic fracture and broken ribs. These were attended to by our surgical team. While in initial surgery, Chantrea went into shock after fluid and air started to build up around her lungs and had to be put on assisted ventilation.

For the next ten days Chantrea was treated in ICU and monitored closely. After coming off antibiotics Chantrea suffered a further complication and went into renal failure. The attending doctors had to consider peritoneal dialysis, a treatment which had yet to be performed successfully at AHC. Within 48 hours of the procedure Chantrea was awake and moving. Finally Chantrea needed plastic surgery for her leg wound. Our surgeons performed a skin graft on her right thigh, which took with no complications and she stayed in ICU until it had healed sufficiently.

Today Chantrea continues to work with our Physiotherapy and Social Work departments on her long road to full recovery. She misses her friends, as she has been unable to return to school since the accident. The medical staff struggle to get her to smile and she cries when she comes to the hospital, remembering the pain, and she suffers from night terrors. However her physical prognosis is good. With continued physio treatment she will be able to walk unaided, allowing her to finally return to school and get on with the business of childhood!

Names changed to protect confidentiality

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