Everyone was worried about David Griffith -- except David Griffith.
The 14-year-old's left hand was almost severed Monday by a log-splitting machine, but he remained calm while frantic relatives and paramedics rushed him by helicopter from Fairfax to a Baltimore hospital.
"His biggest concern was for his grandmother," said Fairfax police Officer Judith Lukens Torian. She said that Griffith, who lives in Kentucky but was visiting relatives, saw his grandmother sobbing on the launch pad and asked, "Would you all say a prayer for my grandmother?"
"We fell in love with this kid," said Torian. "We'd have taken him home in a heartbeat."
Yesterday, after 13 long hours of surgery using sutures finer than human hair, Torian and others were thrilled to learn that a team of doctors at The Raymond Curtis Hand Center at Union Memorial Hospital had reattached his hand. Doctors predicted that after months of rehabilitation, Griffith will regain 70 to 90 percent use of his hand.
"His was a bad one," an exhausted Dr. Ron H. Stark said yesterday after conducting surgery all night. "He was a very calm young man. Very mature and calm . . . . We basically had to repair everything in Griffith's hand."
Stark and the other doctors are used to putting people back together. The hand center is one of the largest in the nation and handles many patients from the Washington area, said Gil Kleiner, director of public relations. Kleiner said surgeons there perform several hundred replantations a year and have a success rate of 70 to 80 percent.
"It is basically the replantation center in this area," said Torian, who has made the 30-minute trip by air numerous times. "We average about two a month," said police spokesman Warren Carmichael. "They do some remarkable things up there."
Griffith's journey began when he was taken by relatives to Fire Station Co. 29 in the Tysons Corner area at 10 a.m. Monday.
Paramedic Pat R. Balchunas, 27, said he and other firefighters were returning to the station when they saw some people waving. What happened next was mostly a blur. One vivid image was a boy who didn't look very good. He was pale, "shocky looking" and his lips were turning blue, said Balchunas.
"He didn't cry a bit," said Torian, who gave him morphine during the flight. "He asked me about his pinky, something about whether I thought he would lose it."
"I'm tickled to hear they were able to replant his hand," said Torian. "He was a sweetie pie."
Staff writer Joseph E. Bouchard contributed to this report.