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Danny Lewis

"Another doctor would have amputated."

Catastrophic accidents can occur in a blink of an eye. That's what happened to Danny Lewis on October 3, 2017, when he was helping operate a steel manufacturing machine. His hand got caught, and the machine had to be reversed to free it. By that time, the bones in his forearm were crushed, and his hand was attached only by soft tissue.

While his coworkers were in shock, Danny applied pressure to his arm and asked others to call 911, to remove his belt to make a tourniquet and to get a bag of ice for his hand. On the way to Ben Taub Hospital, he asked the EMTs for pain medication. His next memory is of the recovery room.

Over the course of 21 days at Ben Taub, Danny had seven surgeries to reattach his hand and reconstruct his arm. The surgeries continue as Dr. Scott Mitchell helps him achieve greater range of motion. "I like to think I'll get close to full use of my hand again," Danny says. "I'm thankful to Dr. Mitchell. I think another doctor would have amputated.

"I'm glad I was taken to Ben Taub. They took exceptional care of me. Nurses were there when I needed them and when I didn't." Danny's wife, Catherine, says the doctors and nurses were excellent at providing her with information.

Danny has physical and occupational therapy three times each week, but even so, recovery has been difficult. "I always took care of others. It's hard to accept that I can't do everything I used to," he says. "It gets to me that I can't do for myself or help my parents when they need me. Doctors say it will be a long road before I can do all the things I did before.

"I never thought post-traumatic stress disorder was real — until I actually experienced it. It's real." He is seeing a Harris Health counselor to gain perspective. "The whole ordeal has been a nightmare. I withdrew from help, but I'm trying to accept my condition and open up to friends again.

"I try not to take life for granted. In the blink of an eye, it can turn around. We have to be patient and strong enough to walk through it."