Boy Continues To Improve Following Surgery To Have Arm Reattached

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s some new information on the miracle surgery at Children’s Hospital, where doctors were able to reattach a boy’s severed arm.

Seth Apel, 12, of Knox, Clarion County, is doing well, and blood is following through his arm. He’s not able to feel anything or move the arm, but doctors say that could take months.

Seth underwent surgery today (Wednesday), and the family says doctors say his arm couldn’t look better.

His family says he is having shooting pains down his arm, which is actually a good thing.

The family is hoping that Seth will be able to sit up tomorrow and hopefully begin standing soon.

After Seth’s surgery today, he got a special visitor.

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker stopped by to see Seth.

The family posted this photo on their Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Seth Apel Family

Photo Credit: Seth Apel Family

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Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Lorelei Grunwaldt and a team of other doctors had a decision to make when Apel was rushed to Children’s: Was it possible to reattach his arm?

“This was a very good scenario,” said Dr. Grunwaldt. “He got here quickly. The limb was cooled.”

Apel had been unloading firewood from a tractor when his sleeve got caught in a piece of rotating machinery, and it cut off his arm.

“Although the nerves were somewhat torn, it looked like we were going to be able to get good blood flow, and in a child of 12 years of age, in my mind, it was definitely worth a shot,” said Dr. Grunwaldt.

Doctors started an eight-hour surgery. First, putting a plate in Apel’s arm to hold his broken bone together, and then came the painstaking work of reconnecting the artery, vein and all the nerves.

“Under the microscope, we use teeny-tiny sutures,” said Dr. Grunwaldt. “You release the clamps and right away his limb turned pink, so it was a very good sign that we were going to be able to salvage the extremity.”

“The blood flow has been great to his arm,” said Angela Apel, Seth’s mom. “They just did a fantastic job.”

Seth loves baseball, and that reattached arm is the one he pitches with. So will he be able to do that again someday?

“It’s sort of a day-to-day type of story in terms of prognosis, and right now, he’s very stable and the arm is doing well, very well,” said the doctor.

She says he should be able to move his shoulder to his elbow in three to six months. As far as his hand, it could take months or even years to know how much function he will get.

Seth’s family says they have gotten a ton of toys and well wishes, including a special package from Art Rooney that included a signed football and terrible towel.

The family has set up a new fund to help pay for Seth’s care.

Checks can be made out to the Seth Apel fund, and dropped off at any Farmer’s National Bank location.

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