Two Los Angeles-area high school students each had four fingers severed while participating in a group tug of war at a school event.
The two teens, a male and female who are both 18, according to a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman, were rushed to the local trauma center after the ghastly accident took place on Monday at South El Monte High School. Miguel Garcia with the LAFD told ABCNews.com that his station received a call regarding the incident at 12:20 p.m. Monday.
“When we arrived we went to administration office, the staff was rendering aid to both kids,” he said. That’s where I saw they had some pretty severe injuries to their hands. The two of them lost four [fingers] each.”
El Monte Union High School District Assistant Superintendent Nick Salerno told ABCNews.com that the students were participating in the school’s Spirit Week events, which consist of a number of student engagement activities.
Garcia said the two teens were participating with 20-30 other students in the tug of war, and that they were on the same team. He said that once he arrived they began to stabilize the teens and dress their wounds.
KTLA reported that the rope snapped during the event, which pitted juniors at the school against seniors. The station identified the students as Edith Rodriguez and Pablo Ocegueda.
“They were doing fairly well for the injury they sustained, they were holding out, but they were somewhat in a state of shock,” Garcia said.
Staff members put the severed digits on ice, and they were transported along with the students to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
Calls placed to USC Medical Center by ABCNews.com were not immediately returned. Salerno said that the students are stable, but it is still unclear if the fingers have been reattached.
“They went into surgery yesterday afternoon, surgeries were lengthy for both. Both students are stable,” he said.
Dr. Subhro Sen, a clinical assistant professor at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford and Clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, told ABCNews.com that severed fingers typically need to be reattached as soon as possible, with a window of about 8-12 hours. This all depends on how well the parts are protected, and if they’re cooled. He said that he has previously reattached body parts that have been off to close to a day.
“In a child or adult that had more than one avulsed off, we will still try to replant those fingers. It can certainly become a significant functional deficit,” he said. “When we see the patient, we assess–not all will be replantable, but we will try to replant ones where the tissue is in reasonable condition.”
Sen said that the road to recovery can be difficult.
“It’s a long and arduous process,” he said, speaking in general about these types of cases. “There are many months of physical therapy and possibly additional surgeries, to release scar tissue.”