By Calvin Palmer
A Connecticut man whose arm was trapped in his furnace for three days partially amputated his left arm when he realized that gangrene had set in.
Jonathan Metz, 31, of West Hartford, was rescued yesterday when he failed to turn up for a softball game on Tuesday night.
His friend and team mate Luca DiGregorio became concerned when one of Metz’s co-workers sent him an e-mail saying Metz had not turned up for work yesterday.
DiGregorio drove to Metz’s house on Taylor Road yesterday afternoon and saw Metz’s car outside but could not get any response either from knocking on the door or calling Metz’s telephone number. He could hear Metz’s dog barking inside and called 911.
“I was a little worried, especially when the first cop showed up,” DiGregorio said. “Then more showed up, and then the ambulance showed up, so it got a little nerve-racking.”
Police and firefighters found Metz in the basement of his home. He had been trying to repair the boiler on Sunday when his arm became trapped. Firefighters spent 25 minutes dismantling the furnace to free Metz’s arm, said West Hartford Fire Department Chief Matt Stuart.
“We used heavy tools to get him out, including a spreader normally used to take the door off a car,” Stuart said.
Metz was taken to St Francis Hospital and Medical Center and his left arm was amputated. He is in the surgical intensive care unit and his condition is described as stable.
Dr Scott Ellner said today that Metz used his own tools to cut through his arm near the shoulder after smelling dead tissue. He said Metz likely saved his own life, but must have been in indescribable pain.
Metz attempted the amputation on Tuesday but was unable to free himself.
Ellner said Metz drank some of the water that had leaked from the furnace to help him stay alive.
Dr David Shapiro, a trauma specialist who also worked on Metz, said he could not have lived much longer. Shapiro said that infection remained a concern but Metz is expected to survive.
“I’ve never experienced somebody who had the ability to go through something like this,” Ellner said. “He provides a lot of inspiration for myself, not just as a physician but as a human being.”
Metz will have to undergo more surgery to prepare the arm for a prosthetic, Ellner said.
Neighbors said they did not hear any screams or see anything that would concern them at Metz’s house at the end of a cul-de-sac.
They described Metz as a quiet bachelor who helps them shovel out from storms. Metz’s dog, a beagle named Portia, is being cared for by neighbors until he comes home.