Doctors re-attach a boy's arm that was swallowed by an alligator

10:07 AM, Aug 1, 2008   |    comments
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SLIDELL, La. -- A day after his arm was torn off by an alligator, 11-year-old Devin Funck is recovering from surgery to reattach the severed limb. Doctors in Louisiana are now waiting to see if the surgery was successful and how much usage the child will have in the arm. Yesterday, this 11-foot alligator left Devin without his left arm, allowing for his blood to pumping out of his body. Dr. Corey Hebert says "it's amazing this child is still alive because the artery courses through the area where the arm was detached." St. Tammany Parish deputies rescued Devin's arm from the belly of the gator, but Dr. Corey Hebert says that even in the best situations, "the odds of you re-attaching the limb and having full use of that limb is almost impossible." And this was the worst. Dr. Hebert says "just imagine you taking some acid and sticking a piece of chicken in that acid for two hours that's the decomposition." Typically a body part or organ can go 20 minutes without ice before it is deemed unusable for reattachment. Whether or not doctor's were able to attach the arm, partial use of it is slim. Dr. Hebert says "if he's stable now, the only thing that can really cause problems with his recovery is infection or pulmonary embolism, these are the big ones." Doctors will continue to monitor Devin second by second to make sure no long term defects arise from the amount of blood he lost. Dr. Hebert says "the fact that this child is still alive, it's amazing, it's a blessing." The gator, called "Big Joe" by residents, weighed more than 500 pounds. Alligator attacks in Louisiana are rare. Only 13 fatal alligator attacks have been recorded nationwide since 2000 and none was in Louisiana.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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