The American Creed Academy Story
Professor William Maxwell, Ed.D.
The mission of the Academy is to proclaim to parents that their children are potential geniuses. Here is a story of how that mission was assigned to him and to this Academy.
On November 12, 2014 I become the neurosurgeon primarily responsible for the care of Professor William Maxwell. Professor Maxwell, an exceptionally healthy and intelligent individual, let alone octogenarian, had the unfortunate luck to have fallen in the shower of his hotel room in Duluth, Georgia. Often times such fall doesn’t result in life threatening injuries, however, unknown to Dr. Maxwell at the time, he had developed a form of arthritis called ankylosising spondylitis. This type of arthritis causes the flexible spine made up of 33 individual bones to fuse into a single piece of bone. This type of arthritis can be painless, but can lead to the subtle loss of spinal flexibility, and a reduction in the range of motion in the neck.
This type of arthritis also makes the spine more prone to fracture after a hard fall, and once fractured, they are considered highly unstable. An unstable fracture is prone to moving in a way that may injure to spinal cord, causing paralysis. Professor Maxwell was somehow able to move himself from the bathroom, where he fell, to the hotel bed and call 911 to request help. Such a move put his spinal cord in great jeopardy due to the instability of the fracture. In fact, I was so worried about it that I did not allow Professor Maxwell to move at all while in the hospital prior to his surgery. We kept him on “cervical spine precautions”, which required him to lie flat at all times.
Professor Maxwell’s fracture had caused his inflexible spine to bend backwards, and open up like the mouth of a packman (Figure 1). This placed his spinal cord in significant danger, and the MRI of the cervical spine (neck) shows how little room the spinal cord had. During his surgery, we first had to be very careful not to move his neck to much as we put him to sleep and placed a breathing tube down his trachea so he could breathe during the surgery. Then we had to carefully move his head and neck while taking many xrays in order to align the fracture. Once the fracture was lined up we placed his head and body in a device so that it was impossible for his head to move, thereby protecting his spinal cord. We then rolled the professor onto his stomach onto a special table designed for spinal surgery.
Once he was in position, we sterilized his skin so as to prevent infection, and then cut through the muscles in the back of his neck to expose his spine. We then removed bone from around the spinal cord and nerves so they would not be in danger of injury. After this was done, we placed 12 screws and 2 rods into his spine to serve as an internal cast for the fracture, while it healed. The entire procedure took about 6 hours, and went without any complications. On July 9th, 2015 I had determined that Dr. Maxwell’s fracture had completely healed.
During my time getting to know Professor Maxwell, he relayed several circumstances particular to his case.
- When he fell early one morning on November 12th, 2014, his hotel room had a night chain still in place. When he gained consciousness several time, he found he could not lift his head or shoulders, thus when he tried to move to the bedroom to call 911 or the hotel operator and could not do so. After going in and out of consciousness more than two times, he found himself lying diagonally, face up, uncovered, across his bed and cannot explain how he got there.
- He tells me that the agony at times was so great that the pains took him to what appeared to be a place like Dante’s hell with many ugly and frightful creatures.
- During his agonizing pains, he prayed to die. After many excruciating days and nights of pain, he heard a voice inside himself saying, “William, you were saved to proclaim to the world that every child is a potential genius. You have been propounding that truth as a professor to an unbelieving world for fifty years. Go to China, India, Brazil and South Africa and you will be believed.”
All in all, it is quite miraculous that Professor Maxwell did not suffer a spinal cord injury. The professor now lives in Selma, Alabama, were he is continuing his mission to teach parents to find the genius in their babies.
Signed and Witnessed:
Robert E. Ayer, MD Signature Witnessed by:
Brain and Spine Institute
Gwinnett Medical Center
631 Professional Drive, Suite 360
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
December 13, 2015