A Miracle in Progress

Matthew GorrySports Writer

December 4, 2012

BOONVILLE - In a strange, unexplainable turn of events, injured Starmount graduate Christian Hurt’s risky neck surgery has been pushed back indefinitely.

The C1 vertebrae that Christian broke in the Rams’ state playoff game last November has unexpectedly, and miraculously, started to heal itself, causing a delay in his recovery process.

The neurosurgeon team in Germany has decided to postpone the dangerous operation, which was originally scheduled for last month, to monitor the bone growth in his neck.

“We’d be gone by now if it wasn’t for this unexpected growth, which is a good thing,” Christian explained. “It’s bittersweet because we were so prepared to leave. I had my mind set on the surgery and progress, and right before we got ready to go, we hear that the bone is trying to grow back.

“It’s unexplainable,” he continued. “There was a chance it would, but the percentage the doctors gave me was so low - it was less than one. I call it a miracle in progress because miracles do happen.”

Christian’s mother, Melody, said the two halves of the vertebrae that broke healed over, seemingly ending any chance of the bone growing on its own. Or so she thought.

“They didn’t think it was going to grow back on its own,” she said. “Both sides of the bone that broke in half had healed itself over, so the chances of it able to grow back were gone. It’s just crazy because where we were thinking we are at the top of the mountain, and we kind of got knocked back down a little bit, but for a good reason. You really don’t know how to feel.”

The team in Germany referred Christian to the Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates in Charlotte where they will decide the next step in the 18-year-old’s recovery.

“The doctors want to put the surgery off until we see if the bone will actually grow back,” he said. “They want to wait until I go to Charlotte on December 11 for a MRI and CT scan.”

While there as been “minimal bone growth,” the doctors compared the growth to bamboo, according to Christian, because “it’s not as strong as bone, but there is something there,” he said.

“They say it’s more like bone fragments,” Melody added. “They’re going to see if those bone fragments will come together to make the regular hard bone. And we’ll find out on December 11 just how much has grown back and how strong it is.”

While waiting for the appointment on the 11th to decide the next step, the Hurts are dealing with the unexpected delay in Christian’s recovery, and, ultimately, his life.

“When my mind was set on the surgery and it flipped all at once, it was just like ‘wow.’ I’m just going to have to be patient,” Christian said. “It’s a lot of mixed feelings for me. It’s just the wait. I’ve been in that same spot for a long period of time that I know what’s happening next. And now I’m back to where I was at the beginning where I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Melody said the news was hard because they have been “straddling the fence” for so long.

“It’s hard. I’ve been praying the whole time that the bone would heal itself because it is a dangerous and risky surgery and we would much rather have it heal itself,” she explained. “But also in a sense, we listened to what the doctors said that there was no chance of the bone to grow back, so we prepared ourselves for the surgery. He would still have had to wear the brace for six weeks after the surgery, but at least I would have known it was all finished.

“It’s one foot on the good side of the fence and one foot on the bad side of the fence. We’re ready to be on the same side!” she added.

The delay is threatening to postpone Christian’s college plans, a possible collegiate basketball career and, according to Melody, her son’s return to normalcy.

“I’ve been accepted to Appalachian State and UNC Charlotte. More than likely, I’ll be up at Charlotte. I’m going to apply to a few more schools before I make that decision,” Christian explained. “I’m going to wait until next fall to start school so I can get everything straight. I didn’t just want to jump back into school after being out for so long.

“Basketball is not my main priority, but if I’m able to play again, that’s definitely something I’d want to do. Right now, my focus is just on getting better. Then I will decide what I want to do as far as playing basketball again,” he continued.

“This waiting is postponing college and him wanting to pursue playing basketball somewhere. It’s just another postponement. But everything is always in God’s time. There are some mixed feelings. Anybody in this situation with their child, you just want to get things over with so you can just carry on and be normal again,” Melody added.

Christian says his family needs “prayers now more than ever.”

“We need prayers more than ever right now. This is so hard to deal with because it’s a good thing, but it’s bittersweet,” he said. “This is just a test of our strength. This is adversity. What are you going to do when you get knocked down? Are you going to stay down? Or, are you going to get back up and keep fighting? That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to keep fighting through this.”

The first fight is December 11.

Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or mgorry@heartlandpublications.com.