San Angelo area boating accident sends teen to UMC Children’s Hospital for life-saving care

Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:20 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Julian Potter couldn’t swim away fast enough as a boat was speeding his way on Lake Nasworthy. The accident that would follow required care nearly 200 miles away at University Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center.

“It just like felt like a punch,” Julian said. “I came out of the water and then I felt my shorts, because it was all ripped up. That’s when I knew that something hit me. I picked my leg up out of the water and I just saw my whole leg cut open.”

The San Angelo Central High School Senior was tubing with friends during the Summer of 2020 when the boat’s steering wheel became stuck and went straight toward Julian.

“I was at work,” Julian’s dad Brian said. “I got a telephone call. It was from his friend. So, I answered the phone and it wasn’t him. It was a gentleman by the name of Blake Phillips. He tells me that there’s been an accident at the lake.”

Phillips, a firefighter, would apply a tourniquet to Julian’s leg before the ambulance arrived to take him to a local hospital. Brian would meet them there and he was taken to surgery.

“Maybe an hour or two later a nurse came out and spoke to me and said they had to do emergency surgery to replace missing a femoral artery,” Brian said. “[She said] ‘We’re going to have to airlift him to Lubbock to the Level 1 Trauma Center. He may or may not make it. He may lose his leg.’ That was a lot.”

The team of surgeons at UMC was able to save him and his leg. Brian estimates he had nine surgeries to repair bone fractures, hi skin and muscles.

“He’s missing 25 percent to 30 percent of his quadriceps,” Dr. Deepak Bharadia, a reconstructive surgeon, said. “But, he’s young and active. At that point, our main concern was if the nerve was still feeding the rest of the muscles, he could still compensate, at least enough that he could one have a normal functional life.”

Julian, an avid football player, is already back to walking. His prognosis is good and he could be back on the football field, where he is a star player, soon.

“When I was on the boat, I was like, I can’t lose my leg,” Julian remembered. “I have football. The first thing I thought was like, I’m gonna miss practice.”

Julian spent more than a month at UMC’s Children’s Hospital where he credits the Children’s Miracle Network’s Child Life Specialists for making it feel like a quick stay.

Now, he’s continuing to seek care at UMC for his wound and as he undergoes physical therapy.

“When I see him now in my clinic, it’s nothing short of a miracle,” Dr. Bharadia said. “We’re talking about him being fully functional, with very little deficit of injury, which was a life threatening injury. We’re talking about him getting back to how he was before the accident. It’s not going to be an easy task. But knowing him so far, and how young he is and motivated he is, that’s the best we could ask for him.”

Brian is not surprised that Julian could be at this point of preparing to return to the football field.

“As soon as I got to UMC and saw the care and the attention that he was getting and how hard they were working, I knew it was gonna work out.”

Now, the Potters plan to pay it forward to the Children’s Miracle Network and they ask that you will, as well.

“There are going to be other children that are going to need the help and the care that Julian received, so I’ll be giving lifelong donations,” Brian said. “Anybody that can, please do.”

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