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Jonathan: A Neurosurgery Patient Success Story

Jonathan was told he'd never walk again.
Today, there's only one handicap he's worried about.

Jonathan - Neurosurgery Patient Success Story
Jonathan

Ever since he was a young child, sports just seemed to come easily to Jonathan. And when it came to golf, he was a natural, competing in several tournaments as a junior golfer.

"Jonathan was always a very gifted athlete. He's not your run-of-the-mill kid," said David, Jonathan's dad.

After graduating from Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley, Jonathan went on to study at Yavapai College, with aspirations of someday earning a scholarship to a larger college in the Valley — maybe even Arizona State University — based on his impressive athletic abilities.

But on June 24, 2011, something happened that would forever change his life. Jonathan was a passenger in his friend's SUV when it went off the road and rolled three times, throwing Jonathan from the vehicle and trapping him underneath it.

The driver — Jonathan's close friend — died at the scene. But police officers and firefighters pulled Jonathan from the mangled metal and he was flown to John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital with serious injuries. Jonathan has little or no memory of the accident, but he was able to give the trauma nurse his mother's mobile phone number.

"That's how we found out he was injured," said David. "But they wouldn't give us any details over the phone, so we rushed to John C. Lincoln praying that he would be OK."

When they arrived they found that Jonathan was, in fact, not OK. His parents were told that he suffered a spinal cord injury and was a C-4 complete quadriplegic — and that he might never walk again or breathe on his own, they said.

However, the neurosurgeon caring for Jonathan was Gianni Vishteh, MD, who has helped many patients defy the odds and return to a normal life. Dr. Vishteh and his team immediately went to work operating on Jonathan, expertly reducing the dislocated vertebrae at C-5 and C-6 in two separate stages, and ultimately fusing the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his broken neck.

Learn About Neurosciences
at John C. Lincoln Hospitals

John C. Lincoln Hospitals provide highly specialized treatment for spinal injuries and conditions, as well treatment for traumatic brain injury, stroke, movement disorders and other neurological conditions.

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Jonathan had a rocky course after surgery, and almost died from a lung infection. But as he recovered from the surgery, the doctors and nurses were there every step of the way.

"The doctors were always available to take questions and the nurses were wonderful in their heartfelt and professional care," said David. "They allowed us to stay with Jonathan around the clock the entire month he was there."

And while Jonathan missed home, his friends and college — not to mention the freedom to do anything unassisted — he maintained a positive attitude and a steadfast belief that he would walk again. While he was in the hospital, he gained some function in his biceps muscles, which was a small but definite improvement.

When Jonathan was discharged on July 19, 2011, he was a C-6 quadriplegic with a tracheotomy and a feeding tube, and no movement in his lower body and hands. As he healed and regained movement throughout his body, he had to relearn everything — to roll over, sit up, stand, speak, eat and control his bodily functions.

Eventually, though, he stunned the entire staff in December when he was able to walk into the ICU at John C. Lincoln to deliver a Christmas card.

"Dr. Vishteh's tearful greeting when he first saw me walk let me know how much he cares," Jonathan said. "I can't imagine making the recovery I did without a staff who really cared about me."

Today, Jonathan is nearly fully recovered and is back on the golf course working on his game in the hopes of regaining the skills he once had.

"We have experienced a true miracle and the doctors' great work made it possible," added David. "We are very grateful for the outstanding medical professionals who helped care for Jonathan at John C. Lincoln."