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A setback for Alex Hook; Infection sends Silver Lake boy back to the hospital

Alex Hook in January 2022

Alex Hook, the Silver Lake boy who suffered a brain injury in September after a lawn mowing accident, was back in the hospital this week after an infection set in.

The return to school last week was short-lived for 7-year-old Alex Hook, of Silver Lake, whose ebb-and-flow of recovery and setback following a traumatic brain injury is being followed worldwide by those sympathetic to his plight.

“It brought some normalcy to his life,” said Michelle Koertgen, Alex’s aunt who is serving as the family’s spokeswoman. “He missed his friends and teachers.”

It was the first time Alex, the son of Kirbey and Caryn Hook, was able to attend school in person since September when, while outside for recess at Riverview Elementary in Silver Lake, a piece of rebar was ejected from a lawnmower cutting grass off school grounds, striking Alex.

Alex suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain. He was flown to intensive care at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in Wauwatosa, and has undergone multiple surgeries and at one point was put into a medically induced coma.

A step backward

When the swelling of fluid in his brain improved, surgeons were able to replace the missing piece of his skull with metal plate, which greatly improved Alex’s quality of life and led to his ability to return to school.

“On his fourth day back (Thursday, Jan. 13) the school called and said Alex wasn’t feeling well,” Koertgen said.

Within an hour of leaving school, Alex’s fever spiked to 103 degrees and he was shaking uncontrollably. It was a telltale sign of infection — which doctor’s warned could happen weeks after surgery.

“Sadly, they had to take the (section of scalp) back out,” Koertgen said. “It’s like taking two steps forward and then a step backward. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Alex suffered significant blood loss during the surgery which caused his heart rate to elevate, Koertgen said. He was given a blood transfusion and now his heart rate is back to normal.

As of Monday, he was on a recovery floor and getting antibiotics to clear the staphylococcus aureus.

“They are going to put a pic line in him so my sister can administer these antibiotics intravenously at home,” Koertgen said.

Doctors have fitted Alex for a new helmet and at some point he will undergo another surgery to replace the plate.

A parent is able to sleep near him in the hospital room.

“It’s very traumatizing for him and it’s very painful for him,” said Koertgen. “For the most part, he’s a trooper. He does wake up with nightmares and crying. It’s just horrific.”

Return to school on hold

Alex will not be able to return to school for “quite some time,” Koertgen said.

“Once he’s back out of the hospital, my sister will consult with the therapist and the school to see if there is something they can do to make sure he’s not falling that far behind educationally,” Koertgen said. “He took some Zoom classes previously.”

Fundraising efforts for Alex’s medical expenses have raised around a quarter of a million dollars thus far. The family has received donations from every state in the U.S., as well from South Africa, Germany and Ireland.

Updates on his progress are available online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/6-year-olds-devistating-accident-during-recess .

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