Doctors Reattach Man's Arm Just In Time For Thanksgiving

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - An Eastern Iowa man has a lot to be thankful for, just in time for Thanksgiving. Roger Batchelder, 74, of LaPorte City, is leaving the hospital fully intact just three weeks after nearly losing part of an arm during a tree-cutting accident near his home.

"The doctor said: do you want to attach your hand to your arm, or do you want to get a prosthetic device?, and I thought... Well, I'd like to get my hand back," Batchelder joked shortly before his discharge from the hospital on Wednesday. "I've gotten kind of fond of it over the years."

The accident happened on Halloween while Batchelder, a retired Waterloo firefighter, was helping clear some trees from a friend's property. A giant locust tree fell the wrong way after a gust of wind, Batchelder said. The result left him with a completely severed wrist.

"I had to run to a farmer and tell him to call 911," said Patty Batchelder, Roger's wife of 51 years. "I'm just so happy he's okay."

"The hand had fallen into the sleeve of my jacket, it was just dangling down there, and I kind of gave it a flip and it flew off," Roger recalled with a chuckle Wednesday.

Batchelder was flown by air ambulance to UIHC where a team of doctors had assembled. At his request, the team immediately took him into an 8-hour surgery to reattach the limb.

"To see his hand laying there then, and to see it (reattached) now, it's neat," Patty Batchelder said.

The couple plans to spend their Thanksgiving with family. It will be an extra special year, Patty said.

Doctors aren't sure what kind of recovery will follow. Right now the hand and wrist continue to progress, but Roger is unable to move his hand or feel much of it.

"I'm just happy to have it," he said. "But I think it'll eventually get back to the way it used to be."

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