Doctor: 12-year-old's arm reattached, recovery takes years

PITTSBURGH — A surgeon who reattached a 12-year-old boy's severed arm says the limb is doing well, but that the extent of the arm's recovery won't be known for months or even years.

Dr. Lorelei Grunwaldt said that Seth Apel's arm was severed just below the shoulder on Saturday. But the limb wasn't mangled, which helped her to restore healthy blood flow to the limb during eight hours of microsurgery.

"I think when I put the blood vessels together it had been about an hour and half since the injury. That's really quite amazing considering how far they live,” she said.

The Clarion County boy's parents, Josh and Angela Apel, said he was helping his father and brothers unload firewood when his right arm got caught in a tractor mechanism being used to power a belt-driven trailer that hauled and automatically unloaded the wood.

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Seth father told Channel 11 that his son loves baseball and that his right arm was Seth’s pitching and throwing arm.

"He was in a lot of pain. He was in agony. He said he wanted to see Jesus. I said, 'No, you're not done,’” Josh Apel said.

Seth was in good condition Wednesday at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

  • CLICK HERE for information on Seth's GoFundMe account.

His father said well wishes have been pouring in from strangers all around the world. Josh Apel said people have sent e-cards nonstop since Saturday.

"I just read one from South Africa,” he said. "We've had so many people praying for us. It's floored us."