At first glance, Jordan McClinton looks like an average 18-year-old. He is studying computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a member of the university’s cheerleading squad. Not many would guess that less than a year ago he was on a ventilator, fighting for his life at UF Health Jacksonville.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Jordan, like many other students across the nation, returned home to complete his classes remotely.
On April 20, 2020, Jordan was practicing flips, when he slipped on the slightly wet grass. Unable to move, Jordan recalls lying there for what felt like a very long time.
Meanwhile, his mother, Vickie McClinton, had been working from home that day.
“Something told me to not go into the office and just stay home,” Vickie said. “I heard a sound and called out to Jordan, but he didn’t answer.”
She ran outside to find her son on the ground, unable to move.
After paramedics were called, Jordan was airlifted to UF Health TraumaOne, the only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, where they confirmed he had a cervical spinal cord injury.
With cervical spinal cord injuries, the damage is located in the area of the spine near the neck and head. Since this is so close to the brain, these types of spinal cord injuries are often the most severe.
Fortunately for Jordan, UF Health Jacksonville specializes in spinal cord injury care with a highly trained multidisciplinary team and board-certified physicians who focus on management and surgical treatment of spinal conditions.
Upon arrival, Jordan was rushed in emergency surgery for anterior and posterior cervical spine fusion with UF Health neurosurgeon Gazanfar Rahmathulla, MD, medical director of trauma neurosurgery. The procedure was successful, stabilizing his cervical spine and allowing room for swelling, which ultimately saved Jordan from a lifetime of paralysis.