March 8, 2019

Perfect Timing at UAMS Saves Woman After Violent Accident

Amy Kizziar with Dr. ron Robertson

Amy Kizziar greets Ron Robertson, M.D., director of trauma at UAMS, with a hug. Her mother Shawn Kizziar (left) and father James Kizziar stand beside her.

Amy Kizziar car wreck

In Nov. 2011, Amy Kizziar was impaled by a two-by-six when a mobile home transported on an 18-wheeler crashed into her sports utility vehicle.

Amy Kizziar rehab

Amy has underwent extensive physical therapy and 118 surgeries so she could walk again.

Perfect timing. That’s what Amy Kizziar needed one cold November day in 2011 when she was impaled by a two-by-six and endured multiple broken bones, gaping wounds and life-threatening blood loss.

Perfect timing is what UAMS delivered that day when Kizziar’s routine morning commute turned nightmarish as a mobile home being transported on an 18-wheeler crashed into her sports utility vehicle.

After 90 minutes of prying her from the mangled car, emergency personnel rushed Kizziar to a Malvern football field where a helicopter met her and flew her directly to the UAMS Emergency Department. Once there, a team of UAMS physicians, who received advanced notice of her condition, were waiting.

Thanks to UAMS’ Level 1 Trauma Center, she was admitted to the ED in six minutes, examined in eight minutes and immediately sent to the operating room. Ron Robertson, M.D., director of trauma at UAMS, and one of the first to meet Kizziar in the ED, said she was one of the worst traumatic injury patients he’s seen.

“She was hypotensive when she got here,” Robertson said. “We didn’t even have to fold back the sheet to recognize that her whole hip was laid open where the two-by-six had gone through. We found nails, wood and just about anything that you can think of that is part of a mobile home in that area. I remember telling her family that I didn’t know if she would survive or not – the next 48 hours would tell.”

A team of specialists attended to Kizziar, whose heart began to slow down from blood loss. Six surgeons – including two trauma surgeons, two orthopedic surgeons and their residents, and five anesthesiologists – worked on different parts of her body simultaneously to stop bleeding and to assess and clean wounds. Thirteen hours and 122 units of blood products later, the doctors had hope that Kizziar would survive.

“We are very fortunate that we have such a wonderful mass transfusion program that allows us to get blood products very quickly,” Robertson said. “We were able to make a single call to the blood bank and receive everything we needed. This is a system we learned through the Iraqi war experience. This has given people much better outcomes — their mortality is much less.”

Although Kizziar remembers very little about that horrific day, she understands the efforts it took to save her life.

“Beginning with the people that arrived on site – from the ambulance ride, to the MedFlight crew, to all the doctors, nurses and staff – everything was perfectly in sync for me to survive that accident,” Kizziar said. “If any one thing was out of place, I don’t think I would have made it.”

UAMS is equipped to help trauma patients like Kizziar every day, Robertson said.

“We want the most critically injured patients sent here to UAMS,” he said. “We have the only surgical intensive care unit in the state and 24-hour surgical coverage in-house, which gives us the ability to gear up and take care of those patients. We save an operating room every day for cases just like Amy’s. So if someone arrives in critical need of an operation, we can have them in surgery within minutes. Amy is the product of a functioning trauma team.”

Even though Kizziar survived the accident and the initial surgery, she would have many more to come along with extensive physical therapy and 99 days of recovery at UAMS. So far, she has had 118 surgerieswith a total of 120 days in the hospital.

“Right now I am working to get my knee to bend, and I am making progress,” she said. “It was completely straight for a year-and-a-half to allow my injuries to heal. Once we are finished with physical therapy on my knee, we are working on reconstructive plastic surgery to rebuild my pelvis and abdomen.”

Robertson says she is one of the most driven patients he has worked with. He attributes that to her knowledge as a physical therapist and her dedicated support system.

“I think being a therapist, she knew the longer she laid in bed, the longer her recovery would be so she pushed herself very hard,” Robertson said. “She also has a very supportive family and community. As a physician I don’t think I’ve ever been more touched by going to a Facebook page they set up for her.”

The Facebook page is called “Hope for Amy K.”

Kizziar holds the record for the most blood donated in someone’s name in Arkansas because of the countless number of blood drives held by the Malvern community.

“Dr. Robertson means everything to me,” she said. “I’d do anything for him because he’s given me the gift of life.”