Wake Forest Baptist reattaches 13-year-old boy’s severed arm after UTV accident

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Life changed for 13-year-old Tyler Hughes back on a snow-covered January day. While playing in the snow his left arm was severed, above the elbow, when the utility terrain vehicle he was driving turned over. The roll bar landed on his arm.

“The Rhino weighs 1,100 pounds and his two friends lifted it off of him,” said Tyler’s mom Crystal, who ran after hearing the boys yelling. “I noticed that part of his left arm was not angled right and too far away from his body and then I saw pavement where his sleeve should of been.”

Thanks to AirCare, a trauma team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and his mom’s scarf, Tyler’s arm and life were saved.

“Obviously his mother saved his life at the scene,” vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Goldman said. “She immediately put a tourniquet on him.”

Within an hour of the accident, Tyler was in surgery.

“Once we identified the nerves to his arm, that they were intact, we decided it was worthwhile to save the arm,” said Goldman, who performed an eight-hour surgery, using veins from Tyler’s leg to reattach his arm. “We train for this daily.”

Today, Tyler can move some fingers but has difficulty lifting his arm.

“It’s been a lot of miracles,” Crystal said. “A lot of blessings.”

He has a long road of extensive therapy and possibly more surgeries ahead of him.

“I’m grateful for a lot more things because I can’t really do a lot,” Tyler said. “It just puts things in perspective.”

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