Archive for Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Mexico, family faces nightmare after son’s injury

Jerod Nieder, 29, recovering after breaking neck diving into ocean

Jerod Nieder, second from left, is recovering from a devistating neck injury he suffered on a family trip to Mexico.
Pictured from left are Cale Nieder, Jerod, Sheri Nieder, Brityn Summers, Michael Nieder, Taeler Nieder.

Jerod Nieder, second from left, is recovering from a devistating neck injury he suffered on a family trip to Mexico. Pictured from left are Cale Nieder, Jerod, Sheri Nieder, Brityn Summers, Michael Nieder, Taeler Nieder.

December 31, 2011


How to help

A benefit will be held for Jerod Nieder on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. at The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave.

The event will be a chance for people to visit with Jerod's close friends and family, watch videos of Jerod in rehab, record a message to send to Jerod, make a donation and purchase Jerod's "Never Give Up" bracelet.

What was supposed to be a celebratory holiday vacation in Mexico turned tragic last month for one Lawrence family.

On Dec. 18, the Nieder family arrived in Playa del Carmen, a beach town just south of Cancun. They had been coming to the region for the past several Christmases, which was a down time in the family’s businesses, Jayhawk Guttering and Nieder Contracting. This year there was an added bonus of a cousin’s wedding.

The family checked into the hotel. And as Mom and Dad, Mike and Sheri Nieder, finished unpacking, their children hit the beach to watch the sun set. The family had traditionally stayed farther down the beach, where the shoreline was smooth. No one thought that section was rocky.

The oldest, Jerod, 29, took two steps into the ocean and plunged head first into the water. He dived straight into a cluster of boulders just beneath the surface.

“The minute he hit the rock, Jerod knew he broke his neck,” said sister Taeler Nieder, a senior at Kansas University.

The collision left him face down in the water and unable to move. Still conscious, Jerod held his breath and hoped that someone would notice. His younger brother Cale, who spent the past summer life-guarding, spotted him and pulled him out of the water.

All Jerod was able to say was “in trouble,” but it was enough to let his brother know something was seriously wrong.

A cousin helped Cale pull Jerod onto the beach, put pressure on his bleeding head and stabilize his body. Taeler ran to get her parents and sister and brother-in-law, Brityn and Steven Summers.

After what seemed like forever to the family, an ambulance arrived. And that’s when a second nightmare began to unfold: navigating the Mexican medical system.

Upon arriving at the first local hospital, the ambulance doors wouldn’t open until a credit card was presented.

“No matter how urgent his situation was, they wouldn’t do anything until we handed over money,” Taeler said.

Once at the hospital, doctors surmised Jerod had shattered his C5 vertebra, which had been pushed into his spinal cord. The C4 and C6 vertebrae were also damaged. Emergency surgery was needed to take the pressure off his spinal cord. The family had to decide whether to wait to do the operation in the United States or do it as soon as possible in Cancun.

They picked Mexico, and at midnight Jerod went in for a six-hour surgery that included taking a bone from his left hip to fuse together his C4 through C6 vertebrae. Once out of surgery, Jerod was placed in the intensive care unit, where visiting hours were slim, his family believed he was being neglected, and communication was hindered by a language barrier.

“There were times when Jerod needed help and was ignored,” Taeler said.

Cale insisted on staying with his brother throughout the night. The next day, two days after his accident, Jerod was flown by air ambulance to Denver’s Craig Hospital, a top-notch facility for spinal cord and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

For the past week and half, Jerod has been at the facility, where the process of physical therapy has begun, managing his medications and working toward healing him.

As of now, Jerod is paralyzed from the chest down. He has no movement in his legs or feet. Arm movement is limited, but he can’t move his hands. He can move his head back and forth.

It’s a condition that Jerod and his family hopes will improve. They’ll find out how extensive his spinal cord damage is in several weeks. The average stay at the hospital is three months, but Jerod could be there for more than a year, Taeler said.

“We’re all hoping for a full recovery and that he is walking again. But we aren’t sure how much of that is possible,” Taeler said.

Just the other day, Jerod was fitted with an electric wheelchair, something he considers to be a stepping stone.

Throughout the ordeal, Taeler said, her brother, who is a Free State High School graduate, helps run Jayhawk Guttering with her dad and loves to mountain bike, has had the best attitude imaginable.

“He constantly stays positive. He’s happy (to be) alive, and he won’t be satisfied if he knows he hasn’t worked his hardest,” Taeler said.

Reporter Christine Metz can be reached at 832-6352.


Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 2 months ago

God Bless the Nieder family during this difficult time! Prayers going up!

Robert Rauktis 6 years, 2 months ago

"loves to mountain bike"

A good sign, he likes activity. He isn't a passive sort so he can get right into his recovery. Absolutely essential for both body and mind.

God helps those who help themselves

bballwizard 6 years, 2 months ago

This a horrible accident and my prayers and thoughts go out to this family. I have been to Mexico 6 times and I could only imagine the nightmare they went through @ the hospital. Your comment about "God only helps those who helps themselves" is so inappropriate and insensitive.

Brock Masters 6 years, 2 months ago

I take the comment "God helps those who help themselves" as a positive comment based on the spirit of the young man and his desire to recover. As Jane below said, if you're going to criticize a comment at least get it right.

KS 6 years, 2 months ago

And we all complain about our medical system. Can you imagine wanting a credit card from eveyone in our ER's before treatment is administered? The Craig Hospital in Denver is excellent. My sister was there for about six months before she died. It is a facility that I think every child that wants a drivers license, or every child that wants to be a cheerleader should visit. They do wonderful work. My heart goes out to Jerod and his family.

coderob 6 years, 2 months ago

The area they were in is mainly for international tourists. If the hospitals didn't collect money in advance, they would go bankrupt because everyone would leave the country without paying. It's sad that the lesson LJworld derives from this story is that the Mexican healthcare system is difficult to deal with. The real lesson is that international travelers need health and repatriation insurance for wherever they travel. It's a fraction of what you pay in travel costs, and makes all the difference if you end up in a medical emergency.

Melanie Birge 6 years, 2 months ago

This a horrible accident and my prayers and thoughts go out to this family! Happy you were able to make it out of Mexico!

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 2 months ago

I can imagine the credit card bill is off the chart, Glad they are home, in good ole USA. Went to school with grandpa Ray and grandma Julie, great people.

Scott Kaiser 6 years, 2 months ago

Mike, My prayers and best wishes for you and your family.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 2 months ago

My heart and best wishes for recovery goes out to this man and his family.

But I will admit that, having grown up on the ocean, I have a hard time imagining why anyone would think it was safe to take 2 steps into either fresh or salt water, and dive down head first. Even if the bottom is smooth, that's just too darned shallow. (Back in New England I can take you to places where, at low tide, you can wade out for more than half a mile...and the water will never get above your knees!)

Use this as an opportunity to remind your kids and grandkids the rules about swimming/diving in unfamiliar water so that this guy's tragedy can count for something positive.

Naismith 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the next time one of "undocumented citizens" comes to an ER in the USA for some free welfare paid medical treatment, we should deny it and ask them to produce a credit card instead. If they don't produce one, then I suppose we could just make sure to give them a copy of this story to read, as we send they're bleeding ass out the door.

This story is eye opening and makes me somewhat angry.

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

You want America to treat people like we are a third-world country? I sure don't. I'm thankful not to live in such a place.

Sounds like a horrible ordeal. I wish the family the best in this trying time.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 2 months ago

I think a more appropriate, yet effective, approach is to medically stabilize the illegal alien (IA), deport them to their native country when stable and then send the bill to that country. If the country won't pay it, we deduct it from all foreign aid.

The only argument the open-borders crowd has is that we can't "treat people like we are a third-world country". The 'stabilize, deport and recoup expenses' approach renders the Left toothless. They will, once again, be stuck with slinging the r-word (racist) as their only flimsy little weapon in their arguments in favor of letting IAs waltz in like they own the place.

coderob 6 years, 2 months ago

Or you could think a little bigger and go with the EU's approach where citizens of all the countries in the union can use each-others' public health systems free of charge. Admittedly, it's a big solution for this particular problem, but at least treats people as human beings who likely had no intention of ending up in the emergency room.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 2 months ago

"all the countries in the union can use each-others' public health systems free of charge." You've got to be kidding. Have you totally lost your mind? There is not such thing as free... and trust me, you can't afford to pay that price, nor can anybody else in the USA.

coderob 6 years, 2 months ago

Trust you? Can I ask you a personal question? Have you traveled outside the US?

Universal care works in plenty of places, and has since World War II. Yes, it is paid through by tax money, but the larger point is that people can avoid the type of stress that comes with having a medical emergency in another country when countries have agreements between themselves. It also allows for more travel, and more economic activity between the countries involved. Your solution deports people who after treatment could otherwise be productive members of society, opening businesses, owning property, and paying taxes.

Maybe it's me, but I don't see why we should be deporting consumers who simply ended up in the emergency room.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 2 months ago

I have traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, the Honduras and to the Philippines.

I have been an ICU and ER nurse since 1989. I have lived and worked in 7 states in the USA as a traveling nurse and lived for 17 years in Arizona, where millions and millions of healthcare dollars were dispensed to IAs through my very own hands.

My wife, also an RN, migrated legally to the USA from the Philippines.

Your impression of how the world works is profoundly naive. You and I cannot afford to provide this service to American citizens, let alone to the 12 million to 20 million IAs living here illegally.

coderob 6 years, 2 months ago

You're assuming that universal care would be more expensive than the status quo. I used to do volunteer Spanish interpretation at a free clinic. I remember one night a Spanish speaker came in who had a foot infection caused by his uncontrolled diabetes. He was living with this problem for months, but waited until he could get time off of work to make it to the free clinic. Thankfully he wasn't far enough along to require amputation. But still, had he not had a free alternative, he very well could have ended up in the emergency room needing an amputation. Which would is more cost effective? Should society pay for a 15 minute consultation with a doctor up front, or restrict medical access due to some antiquated concern about where people were born and end up paying for the amputation instead? Denying people care until things get worse is what we can't afford.

Looking past the finances of this, your plan would in theory take someone's grandpa who just had a heart attack and send them back over the border, stripping him of family support, and employment. Whatever happened to first do no harm? Calling for a bi-national agreement that shares healthcare between two countries is definitely a huge proposal that requires a lot of faith in humanity, but I think it's a lot more humane than having ICE agents doing hospital roundups and dumping stabilized patients off at the border.

Beth Ennis 6 years, 2 months ago

God Bless Jerod and his family. I will be praying for a full recovery. Miracles can and do happen!

Nick Adams 6 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

A horrible event.

When traveling into Central America, pay the extra $40 and obtain trip travel insurance which includes air ambulance and all other health insurance matters. Yes, you're going to have to produce a credit card when admitted to most any hospital throughout that section of North America (yes, no such place as Central's part of North America).

Try going to Costa Rica and end emergency medical treatment.

Too, don't think that "blood banks" interact with each other in that section of the world. Be prepared for the worst......ALWAYS......

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

I wish him and his family the very best.

But: when you go near the Ocean, you have to be very careful - always keep alert! The Pacific Coast near San Francisco has lots of places like the one you described above.

And it seems to me that they got very good treatment, considering the seriousness of the injury and the location where it took place.

Do the best you can, Jerod, and it almost always will improve, though it may take time.

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