UI orthopedic surgeons treat Nebraska boy with unresolved bone fractures
Second opinion leads to corrective surgery for a broken forearm
The day before the Fourth of July in 2021, 9-year-old Dutch Hardeman and his family had gathered to celebrate the holidays. It was a hot, sunny day, and the kids had some time to kill before dusk set and the fireworks could begin.
They started a game of sharks and minnows. This game involves one child, the “shark,” standing in the middle of the yard. The other children, the “minnows,” line up at one end of the yard. The object is for the minnows to get from one end to the other without being caught or tagged by the shark.
During the game, Dutch made a misstep on a side hill and fell. He extended his arms out to catch himself and, in doing so, broke both bones in his right arm above the wrist.
A second opinion from UI hand, wrist, and elbow specialist
Right after the accident, Dutch was referred to an orthopedic surgeon close to the Hardeman family’s home in Decatur, Nebraska, and underwent surgery to set the bones into place. Following surgery, however, Dutch experienced unresolved issues with his arm that concerned his mom, Chelsey Dunning.
“After seven to eight months of the bones not healing properly, I knew we needed to get another opinion,” Chelsey says. “That's when a family friend suggested I speak to the orthopedic specialists at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.”
Chelsey contacted UI Health Care orthopedic surgeon Michael Willey, MD. After sending him images of Dutch’s arm, Chelsey scheduled an appointment to have new X-rays taken. The new X-rays showed that the radial bone in the forearm had not healed properly, leaving a gap that prevented the other forearm bone, the ulna, from healing.
Willey and Joseph Buckwalter V, MD, PhD, an orthopedic surgeon and specialist in hand, wrist, and elbow care, surgically treated Dutch by rebreaking the radial bone, cleaning the cartilage, and putting plates on both bones to stabilize them and promote better healing.
Even though receiving care at Iowa meant driving over four and half hours one way for multiple surgeries and appointments, Chelsey was relieved to have the compassionate expertise of Willey and Buckwalter to help Dutch get back to being the active boy he was before the accident.
“Dr. Buckwalter and Dr. Willey were very kind and thorough with my son and his treatment. They checked on him throughout the entire process, they explained everything in detail, and always included Dutch in the discussion at every appointment and surgery so he understood what was going to happen,” Chelsey says.
After occupational therapy at a clinic closer to home, Dutch is back to doing what he loves.
“Dutch is thriving now that his arm is back in use,” Chelsey says. “He’s doing excellent in football and basketball, and he plans to play baseball this summer and get back into wrestling this winter.”
It was a long road to recovery for Dutch and his family: 524 days, five splints, six casts, three braces, four surgeries, and numerous missed school days and sports activities. Not to mention the miles and miles of driving from Nebraska to Iowa City. However, Chelsey would do it all over again for the standard of care Dutch received.
"Without the help of Dr. Willey and Dr. Buckwalter, I am not sure Dutch would have ever been whole again and would have had to deal with a lifetime of issues with his arm,” Chelsey says. “I wouldn’t take anyone in my family anywhere else. I would make the four-and-a-half-hour drive a million times to receive the care we received at the UI.”