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Doctor: Survivor still critical, but making progress

Surgeon: Miner squeezes wife's hand, interacts with doctors

Randal McCloy, 26, was taken from the mine with a collapsed lung and kidney trouble due to dehydration.


West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (CNN) -- The 26-year-old sole survivor of the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 12 miners has medical problems involving "multiple organs," the doctor treating Randy McCloy Jr. said Wednesday night.

McCloy suffered from dehydration, kidney dysfunction and a collapsed lung -- which doctors were able to inflate -- after being trapped in the mine for 41 hours, and additional injuries have become apparent, said Dr. Larry Roberts from Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

But the news was not all bad.

"Even this evening, there has been some glimmer of improvement in his neurologic exam, so we can only hope for the best at this point," Roberts said.

McCloy was listed in critical but stable condition.

Roberts said the lack of oxygen McCloy endured has resulted in what doctors call "anoxic" injuries to the brain.

"We are now recognizing that it involves his heart, his liver, the kidneys. And so multiple organs are involved, and so he is in critical shape," Roberts said.

Asked about McCloy's long-term chances, the doctor said, "What we're most worried about is brain recovery. Anybody who suffers anoxic brain injury, inadequate oxygen to the brain, can develop a longtime disability."

Roberts said McCloy was brought to the hospital about 3 a.m. Wednesday after being treated at another hospital closer to the site of the Sago Mine.

One of McCloy's lungs, which had collapsed during the nearly two days in the mine, had "almost completely re-expanded," Roberts said Wednesday afternoon.

Roberts said McCloy was sedated and breathing with a breathing tube, but he was moving and responding to stimuli. Most notably, McCloy was able to squeeze his wife's hand Wednesday after doctors temporarily decreased his sedation.

The breathing tube prevented McCloy from talking, but he was able to use his hand and make "appropriate" facial movements.

"He was able to interact a little bit with us," Roberts said at the time, referring to doctors and McCloy's wife, Anna. "I think that all of that is very, very positive."

A brain scan showed no evidence of a head injury from the mining accident that occurred early Monday. Despite the results of the scan, Roberts said the medical team was not able to assess McCloy's level of wakefulness because he was still under sedation.

Also, Roberts said doctors would start McCloy on hemodialysis for a kidney problem brought on by dehydration, but that is expected to be temporary and other bodily functions appear to be working normally.

Rescue crews found the body of one of the miners Tuesday evening, and an apparent miscommunication between the crews and the command center later spread news that the other 12 had been found alive.

The families' euphoria was cut short three hours later when mine officials announced at Sago Baptist Church that only one man had survived.

McCloy had been working in the mining industry for three years -- one and a half years at Sago.

"He was only working to support me and the kids," his wife said. "He had this job because he didn't believe in me working. He wanted me to be home with the kids. So he worked this job so he could pay for everything that we had."

Roberts said McCloy's wife and mother had been allowed to see him. McCloy also has two young children.

Despite reports from rescue crews after an initial descent into the mine Tuesday that there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the air -- too high to sustain life -- Roberts said McCloy did not have significant amounts of the poisonous gas in his system.

However, Roberts said earlier Wednesday that it was too early to tell if McCloy will make a full recovery.

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