Statement from UNC Children’s chief surgeon on care of N.C. shark attack victim

UNC Children’s chief surgeon, Dr. Bill Adamson, shares details about the care and treatment of 12-year-old Kiersten Yow, who was transferred to UNC Hospitals following a June 14 shark attack on Oak Island, N.C. Yow is currently in good condition.

Statement from UNC Children’s chief surgeon on care of N.C. shark attack victim click to enlarge Bill Adamson, MD

June 25, 2015

Kiersten Yow was transferred to N.C. Children’s Hospital from New Hanover Regional Medical Center on Monday, June 15, 2015, due to injuries she sustained during a shark attack the previous day. With her parents’ permission, I am releasing details regarding her subsequent care.

Kiersten had two surgeries during her first week at UNC—one on Tuesday, June 16, and another on Friday, June 19. In both cases, surgeons performed “operative debridement,” removing dead and damaged tissue from the wounds on her left arm and left leg, and changed the wound dressings.

Yesterday afternoon, June 24, Kiersten had her first reconstructive surgery. A team of surgical specialists covered the leg wound with a skin graft and completed initial reconstruction of the elbow, reattaching the tendons to provide maximal range of motion. Reconstruction of the elbow will continue in the coming weeks with surgical wound care and skin grafting on her arm.

Kiersten was walking with assistance before yesterday’s surgery and will be doing so again soon, although she is currently confined to her hospital bed for the skin grafting to heal. The bite wound on her leg, situated around the rear upper thigh, fortunately did not reach bone or the nerves that control the lower leg, so despite some muscle loss, we expect the skin grafting alone will provide her good function. With rehabilitative therapy, we anticipate she will remaster walking independently and even be able to exercise.

Kiersten continues to amaze her entire care team with her upbeat, can-do attitude, which is truly extraordinary for a girl her age given the trauma she experienced. There’s been no, “Why me?” or sulking, just a dogged determination to reestablish her independence and return to a normal life—and we are proud to play our part in getting her and her family there.

 Bill Adamson, MD
Surgeon-in-Chief, UNC Children’s

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