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Tonight at 10, How BAMC doctors re-attached an entire arm

Kelsey Ward doesn't remember anything of the accident which left her without her arm.

The last thing she remembers is leaving work at a restaurant one night last year and then regaining consciousness at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center.

That's when she found out that when her car rolled over, a guardrail came through the passenger window and completely sliced off her right arm a few inches below her shoulder.

She also found out that San Antonio Fire Department paramedics had found her arm after they sent her to the hospital and turned over her car.

And it turns out they did exactly what was needed for doctors at BAMC to try something that's never even been done before in Texas - and it's only been done a few times in the country.

An above-the-elbow 're-plantation' surgery.

"And hopefully this is a medical breakthrough and it saves lives and helps people," Kelsey told me, after wrapping up a rehab session at the Center for the Intrepid on Fort Sam Houston near BAMC.

Dr. Joe Alderete, an orthopedic oncologist remembers getting the call that night.

"One of our chief residents sent me a picture and said 'Dr. Alderete, you're on call for trauma tonight. And I think you're the only one crazy enough to do this.'"

He also told what ran through his mind when thinking about re-attaching Kelsey's entire arm.

"The biggest thing is - am I going to attempt something that could kill her?"

Then after a surgery like BAMC has never seen before, Kelsey got the news. "He was like 'Yes, we re-attached it. We haven't done it before.' They don't know how successful it is. They basically said I was a ticking time bomb."

Tuesday night at 10 on News 4 San Antonio, we'll show you the rest of Kelsey's amazing story. Why doctors and therapists say they're just amazed at her progress and find out what they're learning that could save lives - and more limbs - in the future.

And find out what very interesting message she had tattooed on her other arm. That's Tuesday at 10 pm only on News 4.


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