As 8-year-old Emily Ruckle recovered from a horrific dog attack last fall, doctors told her she’d never move her right arm again.
Last week, she proved them wrong.
“We were shocked,” Emily’s father, Councilman Todd Ruckle, said. “It was a miracle.”
It took an immense amount of effort and concentration, but Emily was able to slightly move her arm during a physical therapy session, Ruckle said. This week, she was able to bend all five of her fingers into a claw-like position.
“They said her arm most likely wouldn’t work again,” he said, describing the original prognosis. “The chances were so slim they weren’t even going to try.”
Emily was home with her half-sister, Megan, 15, on Sept. 27 when she was mauled by a pit bull that was staying at the Ruckles’ house. Megan fought off the dog, called 911 and used first-aid training she received as part of the Civil Air Patrol to help her sister.
Emily was rushed to A.I. duPont Hospital for Children and was later transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she stayed for a month and underwent several surgeries.
Ruckle credited Emily’s progress to an experimental surgery using nerves from a cadaver. If she continues to progress, she will undergo another surgery to rebuild her bicep using part of her leg muscle.
Though she is starting to move her arm, she still hasn’t regained feeling in it, Ruckle said.
“It’s getting stronger,” he added.
Ruckle once again gave credit to the first responders who came to Emily’s rescue, including New Castle County paramedics Cpl. Paul G. Bazzoli and Cpl. Brian J. Warrick, who were recently named paramedics of the quarter by the Kiwanis Club of Wilmington. They were honored Jan. 21 at the Hotel DuPont for “their dedication and commitment to assist the seriously injured child, despite the presence of the dangerous dog.”
“They did a phenomenal job,” Ruckle said. “A child that wouldn’t be alive is alive because of what they did.”
He extended that praise to his daughter Megan, the police officers and firefighters who responded and all of Emily’s doctors at A.I. and CHOP.
“It was a group effort,” Ruckle said.
He noted that Bazzoli and Warrick both went to Philadelphia to visit Emily in the hospital.