Jonathan Metz, who lives alone, was trying to repair his furnace when his left arm got wedged beneath it. Trapped for two days, he lay on the floor of his West Hartford, Conn. , home unable to move, with only driblets of water to quench his thirst.
When the 31-year-old smelled rotting flesh, he decided his only chance at survival was to amputate his own arm. First he tied a makeshift tourniquet near his shoulder. Then he began to cut.
In a press conference yesterday, doctors said he made it almost all the way through, and that the attempted self-amputation probably saved his life by preventing the infection in his gangrenous arm from spreading to the rest of his body.
"There was a little bit of fat that remained and he was in and out of consciousness," said Dr. Scott Ellner, Metz' surgeon at Hartford's Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. "It sounds like maybe there was a nerve there that prevented him from completing the amputation."
Even though Metz wasn't able to fully free himself, a softball buddy eventually came to his rescue.
Luca DiGregorio was worried that he hadn't shown up for a game. When one of Metz' coworkers sent DiGregorio an email saying he hadn't shown up for work, DiGregorio called 911, according to the Hartford Courant.
DiGregorio went with police to his friend's house, where Metz' beagle was yipping at the door, the Courant also reported. West Hartford Fire Department Battalion chief Matt Stuart said it took 25 minutes to tear apart the furnace to free Metz.
Though infection is still a concern, Metz is expected to survive. He'll have to undergo more surgery to prepare what remains of his limb for a prosthesis.