Photo courtesy Omaha World-Herald
Deb Carson said she was so injured and bloody the paramedics at first thought she was dead. The cable on her boyfriend's motorcycle had broken and he'd been unable to stop. He ran a red light and Carson flew into the windshield of an oncoming car.
She had a broken leg, ribs, collarbone and elbow—and traumatic brain injuries. "The right top corner of my skull was crushed into my head," she said. "I was just barely there."
Carson was rushed to Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center's Level I Trauma Center where neurosurgeon Charles Taylon, M.D., operated on her. Carson can't thank Dr. Taylon enough for saving her life. "Without him I wouldn't be looking at me grandbabies right now," she said.
She devised some creative tokens of appreciation. Five years after the accident, she sent a nurse sing-a-gram to Dr. Taylon's office. At 10 years, she bought signs on bus stop benches proclaiming: "Thank you, Dr. C. Taylon, for saving my life!"
Carson isn't the only one who credits Dr. Taylon with performing life-saving miracles. Many years ago, Dr. Taylon performed surgery on an infant with a blood clot on the brain, For at least 25 years, the mother has written him every Christmas to thank him for saving her child's life.
The neurosurgeon has a box in his office overflowing with videotaped "medical miracles" and other feature stories about his care that appeared on local TV stations. On his wall is a framed picture from a grateful family showing a teen in intensive care in January1996. Next to it is a photo of the same patient graduating from college in May 1999.
While he appreciates the gratitude, Dr. Taylon is too busy to spend much time dwelling on the praise.
A typical day begins with surgery at Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center before most people start their drive to work. Then he does rounds and checks on patients. Most days he also sees patients in the clinic and holds teaching lectures with medical students.
He wouldn't change a thing. He always knew he wanted to be a physician. "It was a childhood dream," he said.
While in medical school at Creighton University, Dr. Taylon frequently was involved with neurosurgery cases that inspired him to choose neurological surgery as his specialty. Neurosurgery led him to his second passion: trauma. He was instrumental in helping to develop CUMC's Comprehensive Level I Trauma Center.
"I'm happy with our trauma system, from the paramedics on—they work in sequence together to produce the kind of result that makes it all worth it," he said.
Like the patient he never expected to walk again who recently showed up at CUMC in a wheelchair and proudly demonstrated for Dr. Taylon how many steps he could take.
But not every case has a good outcome.
"We don't win them all," he said. "It's the ones that don't do well that linger in your mind for a long time."
His successes have earned him enough attention that U.S. News and World Report not only lists him as one of the country's top neurosurgeons, but his peers selected him as one of the top one percent in the nation in his specialty. "I was surprised," he said. "I'm honored by the peer nomination. I'm not sure I'm better than anyone else."
The bus stop bench signs said otherwise.