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MGH Surgeons Save Teen's Arm After Pasta Machine Accident

BOSTON (CBS) - He thought his life was dramatically changed forever after a freak accident. But thanks to surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital, a 17-year-old has his arm back.

Brett Bouchard severed his right arm just below the elbow. He was working at an upstate New York Italian restaurant when his arm got caught in a commercial pasta making machine. "After that I went upstairs and put a tourniquet on it and went to the hospital," he says.

A large surgical team assembled at MGH as Brett was airlifted to Boston. "It wasn't a sharp cut. His arm had actually been sort of pulled off which makes it a more difficult injury to treat," says Dr. Kyle Eberlin one of the MGH surgeons.

WBZ-TV's Bernice Corpuz reports

MGH Doctors Save Teen's Arm

Usually an accident this serious means the arm is gone for good, but in a complex and lengthy series of operations, Mass General doctors reattached it. "It has been done before, but it's not a very common operation," says Dr. Eberlin. "Because of his age he has a chance to re-grow his nerves very well, and have sensibility at the end of his replanted arm," says Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, another surgeon on the team.

"I like to spend a lot of time outdoors and I'm very hopeful I can get back to all that stuff," says Brett.

Though right now Brett can't feel or move his fingers, there are more surgeries in store. "Our plan is to take a muscle from his groin that's sacrificeable and connect the nerve up so that when that muscle fires, he can move his arm," says Dr. Cetrulo.

Brett's mother has been by his side through it all. "He's not going to be a piano player, but he should have some function and feeling in that hand. And that's the goal," says Rebecca Martin, Brett's mom. "It's given me a new outlook on life. It's making me appreciate things a lot more, and I never knew how much people cared," says Brett.

Brett could be released from MGH next week to start rehab before more surgeries are scheduled. This is his first time in Boston and he's looking forward to doing some sightseeing. And to pass the time until then, he's reading a book about Whitey Bulger.

If you'd like to help Brett and his family with their medical costs:


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