Few people can say they survived being hit by a train, especially after sustaining severe traumatic injury. But thanks to the Trauma Center team at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, 36-year-old White Plains resident Phillip Buffone can, although he has no memory of it or the three weeks that followed.
On September 25, Mr. Buffone was waiting for his train at the Yonkers Metro North station, when he became dizzy, fell to the tracks, and was hit by an oncoming train.
When EMS brought him to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, his injuries were so severe that his body appeared to have been nearly severed in half. Life-threatening lacerations extended laterally from his spine around to his front, exposing his intestines. He also had significant damage to his colon and small bowel, and sustained multiple rib fractures, leg fractures, and nerve damage to one arm.
“We rushed Mr. Buffone right to the OR,” said trauma team surgeon Dr. Srinivas Reddy, “and, contrary to what you might expect, closing the huge laceration that nearly divided him in two was not the first priority. Repairing the internal damage and preventing infection from all that was introduced to his body were priorities. So, we washed out his abdomen, reconstructed his small bowel, and removed a portion of his colon first. We also inserted a shunt to maintain blood flow down his badly damaged left leg to his foot. Following these repairs, we then undertook a complicated closure of the major lacerations. It wasn’t easy, and he required 25 units of blood to make it through the repairs. I’m still amazed he’s alive.”
Due to the graphic nature of the injuries, some may find the unblurred image unsettling. If you’d like to see the unblurred image, please click here.
Mr. Buffone would remain heavily sedated and on a ventilator for three weeks to minimize his movements, thereby preventing the complex reconstruction of his abdomen from falling apart. After being brought out of sedation, he spent an additional two weeks receiving rehabilitation in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, under the care of Drs. John Bliton and Zachary Sharfman.
“Once we got Mr. Buffone in the SICU, we worked to help him recuperate and stabilize his vital signs,” explained Dr. Bliton. “We were then able to support healing of the rib fractures and scheduled additional surgeries to fix the broken bones in his leg and return the blood supply to his left side extremities,” explained Dr. Bliton.
“The entire Surgical Intensive Care Unit got to know and care for Mr. Buffone,” said Dr. Sharfman. “He was intubated and sedated for approximately three weeks with an injury that few would survive. Once the breathing tube was removed and he woke up, we got to witness his miraculous recovery that the entire trauma surgery team, orthopaedic surgery team, plastic surgery team, and surgical intensive care unit fought so hard for.”
“The doctors and nurses at Jacobi were great,” said Mr. Buffone, who wanted to share the graphic photo of how he was brought in to credit those who saved him. “I was almost cut completely in half, and they saved my life. They actually taught me how to walk again. I can’t say enough about them.”
On November 2, 2017, Philip had recovered enough to be transferred for rehabilitation to a facility near his home, in White Plains, New York. “The fact that Mr. Buffone was able to walk out of our doors and go to rehab is nothing short of a miracle,” said Dr. Reddy. “But this is the kind of work our trauma team trains for and stands ready to provide every single day. After some accidents, we literally are able to put people back together again.”
Contact:John Doyle, NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, 718-918-4055, 917-553-4642
About NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi
NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi is a 457-bed teaching hospital affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The facility holds numerous center of excellence designations for its renowned trauma center, burn center, regional stroke center, regional perinatal center, breast health center and bariatric surgery service. The facility also has a multi-person hyperbaric unit and a surgical intensive care unit. Jacobi’s Ambulatory Care Pavilion is a stunning complement to its recently constructed inpatient facility and allows staff to provide patients with high-quality care in a modern, state-of-the-art environment. For more information visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org/jacobi.
About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation, serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.