ROBBINSDALE -- A surgeon for the 3-year-old North Dakota boy whose arms were severed in a farm accident said the injuries were so traumatic that she simply hopes to save the boy's life, and that restoring the function of his arms is a secondary concern.
Lead surgeon Jennifer Harrington said the risk of infection was still high and would not speculate on the boy's chances of survival or how long he would be at North Memorial Medical Center in this northern Minneapolis suburb.
Parker Sebens, of Milnor, was still in critical condition after about 25 hours of surgery in three days, Harrington said during a news conference at the medical center.
Harrington said doctors were handling the case "minute by minute."
The injury was complicated and difficult to repair, she said, because Parker's limbs were not simply severed, but crushed and mutilated by the grain auger he accidentally fell into.
"It's a horrific injury," Harrington said. "It has been by far the worst injury that we have seen like this to date."
The accident has triggered an outpouring of support in Milnor, a town of about 650 people 80 miles southwest of Fargo.
School children have written letters of support, farmers have offered to help harvest the family's crops, and a local bank has set up a fund to cover Parker's medical expenses.
The accident occurred before noon on Monday. The boy's father, Mitch, had been using the auger to transfer grain into his pickup truck when Parker may have stumbled into the machine's intake, said Scott Buckhouse, Sargent County deputy.
He was rushed to a hospital in Fargo, and then airlifted to North Memorial where a team of surgeons began the first of three operations.
It's the same hospital where North Dakotan John Thompson, then 18, was taken after his arms were severed by farm equipment in 1992. After the accident, Thompson staggered to his house, opened the door with his mouth and dialed the phone for help by clenching a pencil between his teeth.
Although the surgeon called Parker's injuries worse than Thompson's, she said the 3-year-old has at least one thing going for him: youth.
"Children are amazing," Harrington said. "They have a much greater capacity to heal."
"He appears to be a real strong little trooper."
To donate money for Parker Sebens' expenses, send checks to The Parker Sebens Benefit Fund, First National Bank, PO Box 129, Milnor, N.D. 58060 or call (701) 427-5212.
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