Ocean Springs Boy's Wounds Are Healing Well After Shark Attack

The reattached arm of Jessie Arbogast, the 8-year-old boy from Ocean Springs who was attacked by a shark is healing well, but he may have brain damage and suffered harm to virtually every organ in his body, a doctor said Monday.

Dr. Rex Northup, a pediatric trauma physician, said Jessie Arbogast arrived at the hospital Friday night with no blood pressure and no pulse and damage to ``literally his entire body'' because of severe blood loss. ``It's going to be a very tough situation to pull him through,'' Northup said, but added he was ``cautiously optimistic.'' ``Because of the shark injuries and loss of blood associated with that, his brain did go through a period of time with a very low amount of blood flow,'' he said. ``If we can get another several days behind us where things don't deteriorate, we'll be happy with that.''

Jessie, who has been undergoing dialysis since he went into kidney failure Sunday, was in critical but stable condition Monday. He has had six operations since Friday's attack. ``He has done a little bit of a spontaneous eye opening and blinking of his eyes, but at this point is not coherent,'' Northup said.

Northup said at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital that circulation in the reattached arm and in the boy's gashed leg was good, though Jessie will probably be unable to use the arm for up to 18 months.

Jessie was attacked in the surf at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle. His uncle wrestled the 7-foot bull shark to shore. A ranger then shot the shark four times with a pistol, and pried its jaw open with a police baton. A volunteer firefighter used a clamp to pull the boy's severed arm out of the shark's gullet. The boy was airlifted to Baptist Hospital about 30 minutes after the attack, said Dr. Jack Tyson, who met the boy in the emergency room. It was there that the boy's arm was reattached.

``He had essentially lost all of his blood,'' Tyson said. Dr. Ian Rogers, the plastic surgeon who helped reattach the arm, said he was hopeful the boy could regain near normal use of his arm in 12 to 18 months, with extensive therapy.

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.

 For more information on shark attacks, go to the International Shark Attack File .

More Stories on Jessie Arbogast: