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Navy veteran happy to be able to reach out and touch someone

Sometimes you have to take some risks in life and hope that those risks pay off in the end. Such was the case for one doctor who tried an experimental procedure that he had only heard about (not read about or attempted prior), when he reattached a Navy veteran's arm after seven hours of it being detached.

The Navy veteran had severed his arm in a workplace injury and he nearly bled to death on his way to the hospital. By the time the veteran had met the doctor who would eventually give him back his arm and ability to play with his grandchildren, the arm had been detached for seven hours.

The likelihood of a successful reattachment for a limb goes down significantly the longer that limb is without blood. That is why the innovative doctor decided to try an experimental procedure that he had only heard about. To reinvigorate the arm with a new supply of blood and oxygen, the doctor transfused blood directly from the patient's leg. Luckily, at that point, the veteran was in stable condition and no longer at risk for bleeding to death, but there was no guarantee that the procedure would be successful.

The reattachment surgery took a total of 18 hours, and after a year of rehabilitation, the Navy veteran now has almost full functionality in his arm. As he gains strength and adroitness in his muscles and his nerves continue to regenerate, he may one day be able to return to work. For now, he is content being able to hold his wife's hand and push his grandchildren on the swing.

Source: khou.com, "Navy vet's arm reattached after workplace injury," Janet St. James, Jan. 3, 2013

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Jay Gervasi, P.A.
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