Man's toes amputated after hiking in Nepal

Published On: Apr 10 2013 10:03:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 10 2013 10:31:11 PM CDT

April 10, 2013: It was supposed to be an exciting post-graduation adventure for Sugar Land's Peter Fenelon and his three buddies from UT. Owen Conflenti reports.


It was supposed to be an exciting post-graduation adventure for Sugar Land's Peter Fenelon and his three buddies from UT.

The 15 day, 125 mile hike through Nepal was planned as the trip of a lifetime. 

"The first six days of the trek were phenomenal," said Fenelon. "It almost seemed like we were walking in the Rockies."

But everything changed on day seven. Snow began to fall and it didn't stop.

"The snow was coming down constantly," Fenelon said. "Visibility was kind of at a minimum."

The guys waited it out for three days before deciding to start hiking again. 

"The trail was a foot and a half wide," said Fenelon. "So if you slipped, you were going to slide down to the bottom of the valley."  

Making their way slowly through the Himalayas, suddenly they heard a noise.

"We heard this loud cracking," said Fenelon. "We look 20 yards in front of us and this avalanche came right where our path would've been."

Their path blocked by snow, it took three more days to make it to the nearest town. When they finally got there, Fenelon knew he was in trouble.

"So I took off my boot and my socks were soaking wet," Fenelon said. "My feet were swollen."

He was rushed to a local hospital, and it became clear Peter's condition was serious.  

"The doctor told me I think they're going to have to cut off a toe and immediately it was a complete shock to me," Fenelon said. 

The decision was made to bring him back home to the United States.

After an agonizing overseas flight, Peter saw Dr. Nicholas Desai with Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. Dr. Desai immediately began treatment to save his feet.

The key to his recovery was treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, the doctor said.

"We're able to increase oxygen flow," said Desai. "We're able to minimize his blood loss in the area and optimally preserve the tissue."

Fenelon's treatment means taking 60 dives in the hyperbaric chamber, each one equal to 66 feet underwater.

Fenelon had successful surgery, but doctors still had to amputate a big toe and part of a baby toe. But considering he could have lost both feet, his treatment and recovery have been near miraculous.

"He's had such an incredible experience from where he was to where he is today," said Desai. "I got unlucky. Stuff happens and you just have to move on from it."

Fenelon was wearing all the proper gear to protect his body from the elements which helped prevent even more serious problems.


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