2-year-old suffers partial ear amputation and receives hyperbaric oxygen treatments
From frostbite injury to pediatric trauma – hyperbaric oxygen (re)generates results
On November 2, 2022, 2-year-old Kenzie Riemenschneider was attacked by her family’s 10-month-old puppy and suffered multiple head and facial lacerations. Her right ear was also partially amputated from the attack.
“At first, we thought it was just her lip that was sliced wide open and would need stitches,” explained Kenzie’s mom, Jaisa Riemenschneider. “Once the paramedics arrived, they took over caring for Kenzie and immediately started to wrap her head, which confused me. They said she was missing part of her ear.”
Just before she was transported to the hospital, one of the paramedics saw part of Kenzie’s ear on the floor. She picked it up and it was placed on ice for transport to the hospital.
“She had lost the entire top part of her ear,” said Jaisa. “If it was not for that paramedic, we would not be in the position we are today. I want to thank her for taking the time in the chaos to look at the floor where she found Kenzie’s ear. I remember the paramedics saying that the chances of the ear getting reattached is slim and that time was not on our side.”
Time may not have been on their side, but an incredible medical team was – beginning with those paramedics, the emergency care team at Children’s Minnesota including surgeon Sivakumar Chinnadurai, MD, and the team in Hennepin Healthcare’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.
Kenzie arrived at the Children’s Minnesota’s emergency department for care and had surgery to clean and repair the wounds and re-attach her ear. Since the ear is not a very vascular area and patients with this type of injury are at higher risk for permanent disfigurement, ENT surgeon Dr. Chinnadurai recommended that she immediately receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment to restore blood flow to her re-attached ear. Kenzie’s parents agreed.
Kenzie received 30 hyperbaric treatments (sometimes referred to as “dives”) in Hennepin Healthcare’s hyperbaric chamber, where she won the hearts of all her caregivers in what could be perceived as a frightening space for a young child. But she tolerated the treatments beautifully, and now the tiny blood vessels responsible for providing blood flow to her ear have been restored, and her facial wounds are well healed even though she has decent scarring from the bite. Her ear is progressing in the healing process thanks to restorative hyperbaric oxygen treatments, which are proven to help patients with frostbite and other difficult-to-treat wounds.
“She was one of our youngest patients and she was a real trooper,” said Dr. Thomas Masters, an emergency physician and one of the doctors who cared for her while she received hyperbaric oxygen treatments. “Initially there was very little blood flow to the re-attached ear, but we monitored it very closely. After several dives, we could already visualize improvement and were encouraged by her response.”
During Kenzie’s daily outpatient appointments at the hyperbaric chamber, she also had follow-up appointments at Children’s Minnesota to see Dr. Chinnadurai. Jaisa and her husband, Andy are grateful that he was their daughter’s on-call surgeon the night of her injury and recommended hyperbaric treatments.
“I cannot thank him enough for giving Kenzie a shot at hyperbaric treatment. I know as well as everyone else that she would not have the recovery she has today if it was not for hyperbaric treatment.”
After witnessing firsthand how hyperbaric medicine healed their daughter’s injury, Jaisa and Andy Riemenschneider are now advocates for the treatment and want to get the word out about its use by sharing Kenzie’s story.
“We want others to know about it someone else can get helped, too, if needed,” said Andy Riemenschneider.
The Star Tribune wrote about Kenzie in this article published on March 8, 2023.
And KSTP 5 also covered Kenzie’s story on March 8.