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Mine Survivor Doing Much Better

January 08, 2006|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The critically injured sole survivor of the West Virginia coal mine disaster showed dramatic improvement Saturday and was flown back to a hospital closer to his home, doctors said.

Randal McCloy Jr., 26, has been in a medically induced coma to let his brain heal, but when the medication is eased, his eyes flicker and he bites his breathing tube, showing he is "awake underneath our coma," said Dr. Richard P. Shannon of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

"We think that he is clinically stable," Shannon said Saturday afternoon.

"He is not out of the woods yet. There are still issues. This is going to be a long recovery."

McCloy, of Simpson, W.Va., was rescued early Wednesday after being trapped in the Sago Mine near Tallmansville, W.Va., for about 42 hours because of an explosion. Twelve other men who were inside the mine died.

McCloy was transferred to Pittsburgh on Thursday for treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which bombards the body with oxygen to battle carbon monoxide poisoning.

On Saturday night, heavily sedated, McCloy was taken by helicopter back to West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

Shannon said doctors did not see any benefit from further treatment in the hyperbaric chamber.

"I think there's a lot of personal interest in Mr. McCloy getting back to West Virginia," he added.

McCloy's injured muscles are improving, along with his liver and heart function, and tests show reduced brain swelling and bleeding, the doctor said. However, he said, McCloy will need dialysis for the foreseeable future to repair his kidneys, and he will need significant ventilator support.

McCloy's relative youth improves his chance of recovery, though his overall neurological condition will remain unclear until he can be removed from the ventilator, doctors said.

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