It's not every Father's Day gift that saves a life. So it might be hard to top the gift Maria Flor, trauma coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield, Minnesota, gave to her father last year. Had it not been for her gift — a high-quality tourniquet — Flor might not even be getting her father a gift this year. Of course, there's a bit of a story here.
Flor's father, Randy Therkilsen, was working on a piece of farm equipment in his son's metal shop, when the job went from difficult to life-threatening. Therkilsen tells Mayo Clinic Health System he was attempting to release a bearing from a shaft when "a piece of shrapnel came off the bearing race and went in my wrist and nicked a vein," he says. "So, then we had a lot of blood coming out." So much so that he knew direct pressure wasn't going to be enough to stop the bleeding.
That's about the time Therkilsen remembered the tourniquet his daughter had given him as a gift. He kept it in his truck. So he asked his son, Paul, to retrieve it while he called his wife, Mo, and asked her to come and drive him to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield. Once they arrived, Mo Therkilsen called her daughter to give her an update. And Flor was able to tell her father's nurse about the gift that may have saved his life. "The nurse was surprised that dad had a tourniquet," Flor says. "She asked me if he had really received it from me as a gift."
That may have been the last time anyone doubted her instincts as a gift-giver. As a nurse and trauma coordinator, Flor knew what a tourniquet could mean for her father. "Tourniquets save lives. They save limbs," Flor says. "It's so important to control and stop the bleeding." Most injured people who die from blood loss die within 30 minutes of their injury. Flor says if her father had not been able to use his tourniquet to control his bleeding as quickly as he did, "things could have spiraled downward pretty quickly."
That's the message that Flor and her fellow Mayo trauma experts are now taking to farmers and farm shows throughout the region. "I believe there should be a tourniquet in every combine, just as there is in every ambulance," Donald Jenkins, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Trauma Center in Rochester says. In a Mayo Clinic News Network video about the proper use of tourniquets, Dr. Jenkins notes that it's important to use commercially made tourniquets — the kind stocked in emergency rooms — to stop heavy bleeding.
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