ER Nurse helps her son through traumatic leg amputation | Ascension

ER Nurse helps her son through traumatic leg amputation


Ascension Sacred Heart ER nurse helps son in an incident that left him partially amputated in Pensacola, FL.

Misty Spooneybarger’s training as an Ascension Sacred Heart ER nurse has prepared her for unexpected emergencies. Misty relied on those skills seven years ago when a lawnmower accident severed part of her son’s leg. 

Misty instantly knew something was wrong when she heard screams from the backyard. The lawn mower blades had amputated the lower part of Max’s right leg. Misty said she quickly split into “Nurse-Mom” mode. She knew right away the foot was not salvageable, so she worked to stop the bleeding and called 911. 

Max was rushed to Ascension Sacred Heart. Misty said: “Knowing Dr. [Meredith] Shaddix was the trauma surgeon on call put my heart at ease. I knew she was a good surgeon, but also a mom.” After orthopedic surgeons amputated his leg below his calf, he recovered for a week at the hospital.

Dr. Shaddix, Critical Care-Trauma surgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart, said lawn mower accidents are more common than people think. “Every year, 80,000 people, including 5,000 children, end up at hospitals nationwide with lawnmower injuries,” she said.

Once Max’s wound healed, he was fitted with his “superhero leg,” a prosthetic that has allowed him to excel at any sport he’s played. It’s been seven years since his accident and Max is more active than ever. He enjoys playing baseball, soccer, surfing and skateboarding. 

A natural athlete, Max’s athletic ability comes from his father Tim Spooneybarger, a retired pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins, but his ability to stay calm under pressure and persevere comes from his mom. 

Misty said Max is wise beyond his years. “He has a positive attitude about everything,” she said. “He knows he has to work harder than other kids, but he makes the best out of every situation.”

Max, a fourth grader at Kingsfield Elementary School, won four gold medals in 20- and 60-meter run and 25-meter swim at the Endeavor Games, a junior Paralympics event where children with physical disabilities compete in track and field, swimming and archery.