In 2016, Ryley Hopper was a rising sophomore at University of North Carolina Wilmington, enjoying a carefree summer. One afternoon, Ryley was swimming in the pool with friends and dove into the shallow end, striking the bottom of the pool. His friends pulled him from the water, but by the time emergency medical technicians arrived, he had no pulse.
At Duke University Hospital Emergency Department, Ryley was met by a team of professionals, including neurosurgery resident Andrew Cutler, MD. His injuries were very serious.
“Ryley’s injury involved the C6 vertebrae,” said Isaac Karikari, MD, a Duke neurosurgeon. “His neck was not really attached to his skull. He had a significant amount of problems breathing. We could not just rush him into surgery, we had to stabilize him first.”