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Keegan Sugnet: Bouncing back

Monday, May 15, 2006

On the night of July 3, 2005, Keegan Sugnet, a student at Penfield High School, was biking to a friends’ to help gather gear for a sleepover back at his house.

After all, it wasn’t a school night.

The pre-Fourth of July fireworks had just finished when Keegan began to cross Penfield Rd. and collided with an on-coming sedan.

And, mother to mother, let me say this—in the unfortunate event that your kid needs critical care, there’s no place you’d rather be than at Strong.

Almost immediately guardian-angels crawled out of the woodwork.  A licensed practical nurse was on her way to her night-shift—she stopped, and realizing that his arm was missing, hurried to apply a tourniquet; an assistant chief at the volunteer fire station also pulled over, bringing a tank of oxygen and holding pressure against the bleeding stump until medical teams told him he could let go. Chris Podgorski and Harry Burch, also firefighters, retrieved Sugnet’s arm, which lied perilously in the middle of the road, packing it in a biohazard bag swaddled in wet gauze and keeping it chilled with ice from a local Hess station.

Keegan was then rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital, where trauma workers would soon discern that Keegan’s main injury, aside from the amputated limb, was a bleeding kidney. His internal wounds included bruises on his lungs and trauma to his head, yet he was breathing well and his brain was unharmed; the kidney, however, if left unattended, posed threat of bleeding to death.

“According to the fire-chief, everyone at Strong was waiting in a horse-shoe, ready to receive him,” said Susan Sugnet, Keegan’s mother. “It’s hard to not feel confident when you’re surrounded by that kind of medical care.”

David Waldman, M.D., a vascular intervention radiologist, took to patching the bleeding with a surgical tool wired through an artery in Keegan’s groin; husband-and-wife team Thomas Hansen, M.D., and K. Anjali Singh, M.D., orthopedic and pediatric orthopedic surgeons, respectively, would be working together to attach the arm — one nerve, artery, vein, bone, and muscle at a time.

Keegan and his family, although shuffled between the emergency room, pediatric and adult floors, said that they especially appreciated the children’s hospital.

The Sugnet’s found the Golisano Children’s Hospital PICU to be family-friendly, marked by the convenience and comfort of an in-room bathroom and couch to sleep on; the adolescent unit was also refreshing, staffed by nurses that, to Keegan’s relief, were extra ginger while dressing his wounds.

One nurse, Lindsay Minns, even coaxed him to get up and visit the computers in a nearby recreation room. 

“Being able to be on instant messenger, even while he was in the hospital, was the motivation he needed to get up, to move around,” Sugnet said. “And not only that, it was good for him to stay connected with his friends.”

Keegan, who still visits Hansen for physical therapy, is making a quicker-paced recovery than anyone expected.  As proof that he’s bouncing back, March, he even played in his school’s student-faculty basketball game.

Sugnet says that, while she wouldn’t wish their experience on any family, the raw reality is that tragedy doesn’t discriminate. 

“And, mother to mother, let me say this—in the unfortunate event that your kid needs critical care, there’s no place you’d rather be than at Strong.”

Miracle Weekend festivities

Cheering on kids like Keegan is just part of the celebration planned year’s Miracle Weekend, to be held Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3.  The weekend includes two time-honored fund-raising events to support the hospital — the 23rd Annual CMN telethon and 10th Annual Stroll for Strong Kids — plus a few mix-ins that will make this year’s festivities better than ever.

Children’s Miracle Network Telethon

This year’s telethon, produced by 10NBC and broadcast from the Strong Memorial Hospital Lobby from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, June 2, and 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, will bring inspirational stories from Golisano Children’s Hospital’s five Miracle Kids. Among them you’ll hear one newborn’s fight to survive 13 shunt surgeries, a teenager whose arm was successfully reattached, and a young boy’s battle to survive a house explosion.

During the event, you can help the hospital by phoning in gifts at (585) 241-KIDS.

Stroll for Strong Kids

This year’s 10th Annual Stroll for Strong Kids offers plenty of family fun, including clowns, inflatable toys, raffles, door prizes, free lunch courtesy of Subway and a concert by Gary the Happy Pirate. 

What’s more — if you can keep a secret – the hospital is throwing a surprise party for loveable mascot, Sandy Strong, during the scenic 2-mile walk through GeneseeValley Park in Rochester. Expect more than 26 sheet cakes and one super-chorus of “Happy Birthday” at the starting line.

Festivities start with registration at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 3. For more information on how you or a team of friends can be involved, please call (585) 273-5948 or visit

Media Contact

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(585) 275-3676

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