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Hunter's Story

Orthopedics
“Today I can run, work — there is nothing that I haven’t been able to not do yet. Everything is a little more challenging, but I can still do it.”

Hunter Donovan is a 26-year-old mechanic who has a love for cars, motorcycles, minibikes and go karts. In Spring 2020, he was in a severe motorcycle accident near Melrose that nearly changed the course of his life. While going 150 miles per hour on a motorcycle, he lost control on a corner, entered the ditch, hit a field approach and was thrown from the bike. “I woke up five days later in the hospital,” Hunter said.

He had been brought to the Melrose Hospital before being airlifted to CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital. When he arrived, orthopedic surgeons from CentraCare M Physicians Orthopedics cared for him. Due to the extent of his arm and pelvis injuries, Robert Jacobs, MD, orthopedic trauma surgeon, also joined his care team.

Hunter was found to have a host of injuries including two broken bones in his right arm, a broken pelvis in 11 pieces, dislocated spine, broken shoulder, broken vertebrae, broken jaw in two places, five broken ribs and significant swelling in his left leg resulting in nerve and tendon damage.

“The best part was, I could feel the pain, so I knew I still had feeling in my legs,” he said. Because it hurt, I knew I would eventually walk again.”

During his first trip to the operating room, Hunter developed malignant hyperthermia — a severe reaction to certain drugs used for anesthesia. This very rare genetic condition can cause death but thankfully his condition was recognized by the anesthesia and operative team. He survived this scare and had successful additional surgeries to reconstruct and stabilize his forearm fracture and complex pelvic fractures.

“It truly was a team approach to address Hunter’s complex medical and surgical trauma needs,” Dr. Jacobs said. “He’s done considerably well and should make a complete recovery from all of his injuries.”

Hunter now has 17 screws and two plates in his arm as well as additional hardware in his pelvis and face. He spent about a month in the hospital with additional time in rehab. Less than six months later his is healed and back to driving his motorcycle. “I was anxious to get back on,” he said.

“Dr. Jacobs did such a good job. I didn’t think I’d be able to walk or run like I used to.” Hunter said. “‘He said you’ll never be like your old self, but you can work hard and get close.’ Today I can run, work — there is nothing that I haven’t been able to not do yet. Everything is a little more challenging, but I can still do it.”

“When I saw the bike I almost cried. I had goosebumps head to toe — it was very eye opening,” Hunter said. “My advice to others is to learn the bike and your ability before you push it. Every bike and everybody is different. That was the first time I rode that motorcycle.”

Photo credit: WJON