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Loyola patient's arm reattachment story now on video

MAYWOOD, Ill. –  Strangers often stop to ask Bob Seeman why he wears a padded glove on his left hand.

Rather than launching into a long explanation, Seeman hands the questioner a card with a link to a video  he recently posted on YouTube.

The 10-minute video tells the extraordinary story of how Seeman’s left arm was reattached at Loyola University Medical Center after it was nearly completely severed in a tow truck accident.

The padded glove protects the palm of his hand, which is a bit sensitive to pain. And because of poor circulation, Seeman needs to wear a sleeve in the winter to keep his arm warm. But otherwise, his arm has retained about 98 percent of its normal function.

“If I wasn’t wearing a glove, no one would ever guess that my arm had been reattached,” said Seeman, who lives in Mokena, Ill. “It’s such a miraculous story, I want to tell people about it. It’s difficult to tell the whole story verbally, and I usually leave something out. So my wife, Carol, and I made this video."

Seeman is approaching the 30th anniversary of the accident, which occurred April 30, 1984. At the time, he was working in the family tow truck business when he was called to the scene of an overturned semitrailer. His arm got caught in a mechanism that winds and unwinds the tow truck cable. Nearly severed, his arm was left hanging by the skin.

In a marathon surgery, orthopaedic surgeon Michael Pinzur, MD, plastic surgeon Juan Angelats, MD, and vascular surgeon William Baker, MD, worked together to reattach Seeman’s arm.

They sewed nerves, blood vessels, muscles and tendons together and used plates and screws to reconnect his broken humerus (upper arm bone). They took bone grafts from his hips and skin grafts from his leg, and used a vein from his leg to replace a damaged artery in his arm.

Many limb reattachments ultimately fail. The limb can die due to poor circulation, retain little or no movement or become so painful due to nerve damage that it must be amputated.

But Seeman experienced none of those problems. After several follow-up surgeries and a year of occupational therapy, he recovered nearly full use of his arm.

“Sometimes in life we don’t appreciate something until we lose it, and then it’s too late,” he says in the video. “It seems that hundreds of times over the years I’d be playing with my children, picking them up high in the air with two good arms, and it hits me like a lightning bolt how fortunate and thankful I am for a second chance.”

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Media Relations

Jim Ritter
Media Relations
(708) 216-2445
jritter@lumc.edu
Anne Dillon
Media Relations
(708) 216-8232
adillon@lumc.edu