HEALTH

Kearns woman loses organ in crash but it grew back

Mar 21, 2018, 6:45 PM | Updated: 9:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Five years ago, while living in Oklahoma, Brittany Hancock gave birth to twins. Four days later at an intersection, she was hit in a head-on collision.

Hancock’s spleen exploded, and she had to have emergency surgery.

“They thought they got all the spleen pieces, turns out they didn’t,” Hancock said.

A year later, she felt unexplained abdominal pain.

“I was crying and screaming it hurt so bad,” she said. In the E.R., Hancock said doctors discovered what was wrong. “I had five spleens attached to my intestines.”

The medical term for what happened to Hancock is splenosis, when spleen tissue attaches to parts of the body after trauma or surgery.

“A lot of blood flow goes through the spleen,” said Dr. Nick Paulk, a surgeon at St. Mark’s Hospital. He said while the spleen can’t regenerate back into a working organ, when it’s ruptured like in Hancock’s car accident, “It can implant and continue to survive.”

A healthy spleen has three main functions.

“It works a lot with your immune system to fight off infections,” Dr. Paulk said. “Second, it acts as quality control for your red blood cells and platelets.”

It can also help produce blood.

But when pieces of Hancock’s fractured spleen attached to her intestine, they enlarged and wreaked havoc on her digestive tract. “Caused a foot of my intestines to die and my body was going into sepsis,” Hancock said.

She had harmful bacteria in her body, which was life-threatening and required emergency surgery.

Doctors say what happened to Hancock is rare.

“I’m still in shock about it,” she said.

After a tough recovery, she is healthy. “I’ve cheated death twice now and it’s pretty crazy to say.”

She looks at life differently now. “You don’t know when someone’s going to go through that stop light and change your world forever,” Hancock said.

Doctors removed all the tissue that was shutting down her intestines. But they left two groups of benign cells inside. She says they told her they don’t expect this will happen again.

Doctors say the biggest problem people usually face after spleen removal is an increased risk of infections, but there are vaccines that can help. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Health

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventio...
Jen Christensen, CNN

‘You do not want this’ virus: California man with monkeypox urges others to get vaccinated

Matt Ford edits videos for a living, so it wasn't a stretch for him to put one together for TikTok. But his latest post wasn't a crazy dance or a video about how to peel a banana the right way. It's based on his own experience with monkeypox.
2 days ago
There are five kinds of rattlesnakes that populate Utah (DWR)...
Shara Park and Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV

Utahns experiencing close encounters of the rattlesnake kind

As you make plans to head to the great outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to heed the warning about rattlesnakes.
3 days ago
Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States. Rabid bats have been fo...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

State confirms rabies found in three Utah bats

The state of Utah confirmed on Thursday three cases of rabies so far this summer. The cases were found in bats in Salt Lake County, Weber County, and Washington County.
3 days ago
LGBTQ teens at an Encircle activity....
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Parents’ support key to mental health among LGBTQ+ youth, experts say

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. In the LGBTQ+ community, that number is three times higher. Experts say family support is crucial to an adolescents’ mental health.
4 days ago
The American Heart Association added sleep duration to its cardiovascular health checklist. It's a ...
Megan Marples, CNN

Sleep duration matters for heart health, according to new recommendations

If you needed another reason to get enough sleep, here it is: It may help your heart health.
4 days ago
FILE: A woman with an  iPhone...
BARBARA ORTUTAY AP Technology Writer

EXPLAINER: Data privacy concerns emerge after Roe decision

With abortion now or soon to be illegal in over a dozen states and severely restricted in many more, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users are facing new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Kearns woman loses organ in crash but it grew back