By David Johnson
It was just an innocent game of kickball on the Jefferson Elementary School playground. One of those rambunctious tilts played out every day during recess at schools across the nation.
Eleven-year-old Eban Staab was up to “bat.” A sports nut like most boys his age, Eban booted the ball and shot toward first base.
Thinking back to last April, Eban described pumping his legs toward an ill-fated collision.
“I kicked the ball and ran to first and jumped, and I landed on the base.”
But in the process, Eban collided with one of his friends. Down the boys went in a heap.
“Eban’s the one who came out with a broken knee,” said Eban’s mother, Jill Staab. “The other boy was okay.”
The pain was excruciating. “I cried,” Eban admitted.
The Emergency Department staff at Pullman Regional Hospital realized Eban’s injury was unusual and serious. Dr. Edwin Tingstad, orthopedic surgeon, was called to examine Eban. Dr. Tingstad rendered a diagnosis and prescribed immediate emergency surgery.
“Eban had an unusual injury that only occurs in growing kids called a patellar sleeve fracture.
If not fixed, he would have difficulty walking or running for life,” Dr. Tingstad recalled. “These are much better fixed quickly as they become much more problematic with time.”
Eban can’t remember whether his jumping on first base, colliding with his friend or the subsequent impact with the ground (perhaps all three) left him writhing in pain.
He and his mom said the knee cap had essentially been ripped away on the bottom and was flapping around inside his skin.
“Usually you run through it,” Eban said about advancing to first base. “But they stand on first when they’re going to catch the ball. When I hit him, I thought I bruised my knee. Then when I hit the ground it hurt.”
School personnel tended to Eban and called Jill to the scene.
“He was laying on the ground screaming,” she recalled. “We had trouble getting him in the car. It took four of us. Two teachers, the principal and me.”
“And the janitor,” Eban said.
At Pullman Regional Hospital, Eban was admitted to the emergency room.
Jill praised Dr. Tingstad for his efficiency, expertise and concern about Eban. “He said, ‘Okay, this boy needs emergency surgery.’ So within an hour, he had him in surgery.”
Eban, now 12 years old, lives with his mom and dad, Jeremy Staab, and 15-year-old brother Adrian a few miles outside of Pullman in a country home. He said baseball is his favorite sport.
Science, Eban said, is his favorite subject in school. And sometimes he sits next to a special friend. “Sam Tingstad. He’s doctor Tingstad’s son.”
Eban remembered waking after surgery at 2 a.m. in Pullman Regional Hospital “The chocolate milk was good.”
When he looked down, he had a “big white thing” on his left knee. Inside the wrapping, a splint held his leg firm. Two weeks later, a cast was applied.
About a month later, the cast came off. A brace was used, then another wrap and today Eban is running, jumping and looking forward to resuming sports.
“I can bend it like this,” he said, pulling his knee to his chest.
And there’s no limp.
Asked to look into the future, Eban said, “I want to be a doctor.” Perhaps an orthopedic surgeon, like his favorite doctor.
At Pullman Regional Hospital, we provide our community with round-the-clock access to emergency specialty care. We are deeply invested in continuing to provide this service despite the rising expense to provide it and dwindling government reimbursements to sustain it. The Pullman Regional Hospital Endowment for Quality & Access is critical to our plan to sustain the quality of our services and assure access to needed services. It's the generosity of our community that sustains us. Learn how you can help.