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Boy Submerged 45 Minutes Has Chest Surgery

December 08, 1987|Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — An 11-year-old who doctors say was clinically dead after spending 45 minutes underwater continued to recover Monday after undergoing surgery to close an incision in his chest, doctors said.

"We're making steady progress," said Dr. William Norberg, the attending physician for Alvaro Garza Jr., who was pulled without a heartbeat Friday from the frigid Red River after falling through thin ice.

Alvaro was in critical but stable condition Monday at St. Luke's Hospitals after 1 1/2 hours of surgery to close the incision, Norberg said.

Tissue Was Swollen

His chest was opened Friday for insertion of a heart-lung machine and was left open because of tissue swelling, Norberg said. Alvaro remained on a respirator Monday, he said.

The hospital has set up a fund to receive contributions after getting hundreds of calls from all over the country inquiring about Alvaro's condition and where donations can be sent, said Kathy Borge, a hospital spokeswoman.

Alvaro, a fifth-grader in neighboring Moorhead, Minn., was clinically dead when he was brought to the hospital Friday, Norberg said. His body temperature was about 80 degrees when he was pulled from the river, he said.

"He's come from being certainly dead to where we expect him now to survive," Norberg said Monday.

Responsive to Touch

Alvaro remained heavily sedated but was responsive to touch and speech, the doctor said.

Alvaro Garza Sr., the boy's father, said he spoke to his son before the boy went into surgery Monday.

"I asked him things like if he knew me, where he was, what had happened," he said. "He nodded his head and blinked his eyes yes to each question. I know in my feelings he's going to make it."

Norberg said Alvaro probably would remain on the respirator until today.

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