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Doctors perform rare skin grafting to help man heal

<i>KOVR</i><br/>Ken Levy is Robert Wentland's longtime friend.
Ken Levy is Robert Wentland's longtime friend.

By Marlee Ginter

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    ACAMPO, California (KOVR) — Doctors stopped at nothing to save a man involved in a terrible motorcycle accident. A wartime surgical technique was used to save his limb, but that’s not what he says is really keeping him going.

The same old long road home would take Robert Wentland on a journey he never imagined. He was hit while pulling out of a driveway on his motorcycle.

“I think the ultimate kicker is to have your spirits higher than your pain,” Robert said in a voice text to his longtime friend, Ken Levy.

Ken says Robert sent him the voice message just days after the accident while he still lying in his hospital bed.

“When I see him stand strong it makes my spine strengthen,” Ken told CBS13.

That strength couldn’t be more evident now. Ken says Robert suffered broken legs, ribs, a broken arm, and punctured lungs. Pictures he sent to Ken show his forearm sewed to his abdomen. Ken says Kaiser doctors used an extremely rare wartime skin grafting technique to save some of his tissue by helping the skin regrow and produce more blood.

“I’d never heard of anything like that,” said Ken. “I’d seen a finger or hand, but not the entire forearm like that.”

As if that tragic accident wasn’t enough, Robert already had a heavy heart as he rode his motorcycle that day. Doctors had recently diagnosed him with cancer.

“He was just starting to prepare for what he was going to go through. He was just starting to feel the effects of it,” said Ken.

But Ken isn’t just sharing Robert’s story of survival. He’s sharing his friend’s story of perseverance, as Robert is hoping to help others through tough times.

“His story right now is there’s hope for you,” Ken said. “Whatever is not working out your way, there is hope. There’s hope, there’s meaning, and there’s a purpose for your life and you can make something out of what you’re going through.”

Robert was just about to talk with CBS13 over Zoom when doctors brought him back into the Intensive Care Unit. He still has more surgeries and a long road to recovery, but he credits his faith and positivity to his healing.

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