DOCTORS: Boy whose arm was reattached after shark attack showing some encouraging signs

Tuesday, July 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A doctor monitoring an 8-year-old shark attack victim for possible brain damage said Tuesday that he is showing some encouraging signs.

Surgeons reattached the right arm of Jessie Arbogast after he was attacked by the shark Friday. He also suffered a severe leg wound and was nearly drained of blood before he arrived at the hospital.

``I am happy to report that Jessie's resting comfortably this morning,'' Dr. Juliet De Campos said on ABC's ``Good Morning America.''

He was in critical but stable condition at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. Doctors said the blood loss harmed virtually every organ in his body, causing kidney failure and raising the possibility of brain damage.

De Campos said it was still too early to say whether there was brain damage, but ``I personally saw him open his eyes and look at his father yesterday morning.'' Electroencephalograph readings show brain activity akin to deep sleep rather than brain damage, doctors said.

``It has the appearance at this point in time of perhaps someone who is in a deep sleep, that there plainly is still electrical activity,'' another physician, Dr. Rex Northup, said earlier. ``He does seem to respond to things that are painful or bothersome to him.''

``He has done a little bit of a spontaneous eye opening and blinking of his eyes,'' Northup said.

The doctor said sedatives being used on the boy were probably contributing to his continued unconsciousness.

Although Jessie was still fighting for his life, his chances were much improved over the day he arrived at Baptist Hospital after the attack.

``Friday night I had a dead child,'' Dr. Jack Tyson said. ``Now I have a child with a viable extremity that's warm, that's got a pulse.'' He was transferred from Baptist to Sacred Heart for treatment of his kidney failure.

The Ocean Springs, Miss., boy was attacked in the surf at the Fort Pickens section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle.

His uncle, Vance Flosenzier, of Mobile, Ala., wrestled the 7-foot-long bull shark to shore with the help of another beachgoer.

A ranger shot the shark and pried its jaw open with a police baton while a volunteer firefighter pulled the arm out of the shark's gullet. Flozenzier and Jessie's aunt, Diana Flozenzier, tended to the boy.

``Hero is what I can say about the aunt and uncle,'' Tyson said. ``They took beach towels and tied off the arm and leg to try to control that bleeding, which is exactly the thing to do.''

According to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, 34 of the nation's 51 reported shark attacks last year were in Florida. One of the attacks was fatal: A 69-year-old man was killed by a bull shark near his St. Petersburg home last August.

There were 79 shark attacks worldwide last year, including 10 that were fatal. File officials said it is the highest number since the organization began keeping records in 1958.