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Cleaning a Deadly Infection

Author Rose Sweet writes:

I flew to the Midwest to visit my little brother, Fred, one of the top spine surgeons in the United States. Fred picked me up at the airport and told me he either could drop me off at his home to visit with his wife and their kids, or I could go with him to the Children's Hospital, where he'd just been called in for an emergency procedure. He would outfit me as a medical student and I could watch him perform the surgery. I agreed excitedly without stopping to think about what I was going to see. "Are you kidding? Let's go!"
Wearing blue scrubs, booties, cap and mask, I stood by Fred alongside a gurney while he talked to the patient, a twelve-year-old boy. The boy's leg had been almost severed just below the knee in a playground accident. Dr. Fred assured him everything would be okay, and he was quickly wheeled into the operating room.
Four days earlier, the emergency room doctors had sewn the wound up and sent the boy home. However, he'd developed a high fever and when it reached 105 degrees the parents, worried and in tears, brought him back. It turned out the improperly cleaned wound was still filled with gravel, and some of the skin around the sutures had died and was spreading to healthy tissue. The boy's body was racked with infection, and the fever had signaled what was going on behind those stitches.
I'll never forget watching a sight that was together the most gruesome and most awesome I think I'll ever see. Within minutes the medical team had the boy under general anesthesia, draped, and ready for surgery. I was shocked at how aggressively Fred removed the stitches, reopened the wound, and stuck his sterilized and gloved hand right down into the boy's bloody leg to clean it out. As I stood nearby, I watched as my baby brother's skilled fingers quickly cleaned around flesh and bone and then delicately cut away dead tissue that was infecting the rest of the leg. After the wound was cleansed, Fred directed the assistant surgeon to close up while we left to find the boy's parents. The operation went well, Fred told them, and he gave Mom and Dad steps for follow-up care at home.

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