- James MacWhinnie, the personal trainer and Ironman athlete critically injured last Thursday, is in critical but stable condition. According to his sister, Karen MacWhinnie, James is getting ready for one more major surgery and the doctors have given him a high chance of survival.
On Thursday morning, December 10, MacWhinnie was helping his father move an oil tank up a flight of stairs when the step beneath him gave way, trapping MacWhinnie beneath the stairwell and lacerating his liver. MacWhinnie was rushed to Southampton Hospital
, where the trauma to his liver prohibited him from being moved to Stony Brook University Hospital.
At Southampton Hospital, Dr. George Keckeisen was forced to remove 60 percent of MacWhinnie's liver, however through his efforts MacWhinnie was stabilized for the move.
That evening MacWhinnie was transported to Stony Brook where he underwent a three-hour surgery, led by Dr. Jared Huston along with three other specialists. A third surgery was conducted on Sunday and a fourth Tuesday, the last in which the doctors attempted to close him up, though they were unable to do so due to swelling, according to MacWhinnie's sister. The doctors will try to stitch
him up again on Friday.
Though the ordeal is not yet over, there is hope. While the doctors were in surgery on Tuesday, they took a look at MacWhinnie's liver and were surprised at how fast it has begun to grow back. "Because he doesn't drink and he's so healthy, his liver is already growing back," Karen MacWhinnie said on Wednesday, "He's the miracle man - It's been miracle after miracle. Anybody else, they said, wouldn't have made it."
MacWhinnie, an employee at Core Dynamics Gym in Water Mill and a triathlon athlete who twice competed in the grueling Ironman race, held on despite trauma that would certainly have killed someone less physically fit, coworkers at Core Dynamics agreed.
Friends of the family began getting the word out to news organizations and the community soon after the accident occurred, as MacWhinnie had lost a great deal of blood and is the relatively rare blood type B-positive. Southampton Firefighter and family friend Chris Brenner explained in an email sent to news outlets on Saturday that MacWhinnie had already been given 100 units of blood during the first two surgeries and would likely need another 100 units. Brenner urged members of the community to call Stony Brook Hospital to donate in MacWhinnie's name.
The community answered the call in full force, according to Karen. Stony Brook had "never been inundated with so many phone calls," she said, all of which were for James, offering to donate their B-positive blood. At this point, "100 percent of his blood is not his own," Karen added, so thankful for the community's donations.
The Bridgehampton Fire Department will be holding an impromptu blood drive on Friday, December 18 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., in MacWhinnie's honor, though the blood donations made at the drive will go to supporting blood banks around the country, not solely to MacWhinnie's cause.
There is still one request the MacWhinnie family has of the community, as even in recovery James will have to fight against all odds. "We really want to stress that he has no health insurance," Karen stated, explaining that family friend "Kasey Immerman has gone above and beyond in trying to help us," including putting the wheels in motion to set up an account at Hamptons State Bank in Southampton Village to accept donations to help with James' continued care.
Immerman has also purportedly ordered some 1,000 LiveStrong-style bracelets that say, "Strength, Love, Courage - Jimmy Mac," and are "blue for his blue eyes," according to his sister, and there are already preliminary talks about a 5k/10k marathon to be organized in MacWhinnie's name.