April 23, 2013 in Nation/World

Boston bombing patients are all expected to survive

Marilynn Marchione Associated Press
 

BOSTON – In a glimmer of good news after last week’s tragedy, all of the more than 180 people injured in the Boston Marathon blasts who made it to a hospital alive now seem likely to survive.

That includes several people who arrived with legs attached by just a little skin, a 3-year-old boy with a head wound and bleeding on the brain, and a little girl riddled with nails. Even a transit system police officer whose heart had stopped and was close to bleeding to death after a shootout with the suspects now appears headed for recovery.

“All I feel is joy,” said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, referring to his hospital’s 31 blast patients. “Whoever came in alive stayed alive.”

Three people did die in the blasts, but at the scene, before hospitals even had a chance to try to save them. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who police say was fatally shot Thursday by the suspects was pronounced dead when he arrived at Massachusetts General.

The only person to reach a hospital alive and then die was one of the suspected bombers: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

But the remarkable, universal survival one week later of all others injured in the blasts is a testimonial to fast care at the scene, on the way to hospitals, then in emergency and operating rooms. Everyone played a part, from doctors, nurses and paramedics to strangers who took off belts to use as tourniquets and stanched bleeding with their bare hands.

As of Monday, 51 people remained hospitalized, three of them in critical condition and five listed as serious. At least 14 people lost all or part of a limb; three of them lost more than one.

Two children with leg injuries remained hospitalized at Boston Children’s Hospital: A 7-year-old girl was in critical condition and 11-year-old Aaron Hern, of Martinez, Calif., was in fair condition.

“Our training, our practicing, went a long way” to minimizing chaos so that hospitals and emergency responders worked effectively to treat the many wounded, said Dr. William Mackey, surgery chief at Tufts Medical Center.

Although doctors are optimistic, some patients still have life-threatening wounds. Complications can range from blood clots to infections. A few still have injuries that could require amputation, said Dr. Michael Yaffe, a trauma surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“We have to see how these are going to heal” over the next few weeks, he said. “Blood supply is key … The two biggest enemies we will face in the next two weeks are maintaining a good blood supply and preventing infection.”

So far, the progress has been in the right direction.

“Every day they’re a little better,” Yaffe said. “A lot of them have a long road of recovery ahead.”

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