The 8-year-old boy whose arm was reattached after it was ripped off by a shark suffered a slight setback today when internal bleeding postponed scheduled skin graft surgery, doctors said.
Doctors said they were not surprised by the bleeding because of the type of injuries Jessie Arbogast suffered when a shark attacked him at the Gulf Islands National Seashore on July 6. Jessie's uncle managed to rescue him, drag the shark back to shore and pry the boy's severed arm from the shark's gullet. Doctors surgically reattached the arm.
Jessie received two units of blood today to counteract gastrointestinal bleeding that began early this morning, his doctors said. However, they added, Jessie is responding well, despite the setback.
"We've given him two units of blood as a preemptive measure, and he is responding well to medications," said Dr. Bob Patterson, one of Jessie's doctors at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Pensacola. "We've also backed off the tube feeding for now."
Last week, doctors began feeding Jessie through a feeding tube, but today's development forced them to return to intravenous lines. Today, Jessie was supposed to undergo follow-up skin grafting surgery for his injuries but that has been postponed because of the bleeding.
A Yen for Snickers
Jessie remains in critical but stable condition. Earlier today, doctors said the boy's brain may not have been damaged from blood loss after the shark attack, and that he might be able to go home soon. He lives in Ocean Springs, Miss.
"Now that he's off the ventilator, [and] as soon as he's out of critical condition he can potentially go home," Dr. Juliet De Campos, another of his doctors, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
But doctors also stressed that it will be some time before they know for sure whether Jessie suffered brain damage. Jessie "doesn't have any significant brain swelling and he may have a chance for normal brain survival," De Campos said. "But he has not woken up yet to the extent that we can tell whether or not he'll have any residual effects from it."
The biggest improvement in the boy's condition though, De Campos said, was not due to sophisticated medical techniques, but to a very simple thing.
De Campos said she brought a Snickers bar to the Jessie's room on Saturday, because "his grandfather said Jessie will do almost anything for a Snickers bar."
"He really looked at that Snickers bar longingly and tracked it around the room," she said. "He is starting to really show signs of increased alertness."
Otherwise, the boy's reattached arm is still healing well, De Campos added.
"He's moving the shoulder. The muscles above the upper arm work so he's able to move his arm away and close to his body and rotate it," she said.
But she warned he won't be able to move the fingers or the elbow so soon, and that doctors wouldn't be able to tell the full amount of function for up to a year.
More Shark Attacks
Meanwhile, two people were bitten by sharks in Florida this weekend, one of them just 6 miles away from where Jessie was mauled.
A 48-year-old surfer was bitten on the leg on Sunday afternoon off Santa Rosa Island, said Lt. Bob Clark of the Escambia County sheriff's office.
Michael Lee Waters was reportedly dangling his legs over the side of his board when he was attacked. Aurora Schandlon saw the man come in off the water: "We saw the blood and he kept yelling, 'He bit me, he bit me!'