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Boy, 11, Who ‘Died’ in Icy River Leaves Hospital

Associated Press

An 11-year-old boy who was considered clinically dead when he was pulled from a frozen river more than two weeks ago wished hundreds of cheering supporters a “Merry Christmas” as he left the hospital for home on Monday.

Alvaro Garza Jr. left St. Luke’s Hospital wearing ankle braces and wrist splints because nerve damage has limited his ability to control some muscles, doctors said.

“I would like to thank everybody who prayed for me and helped me,” he told about 200 hospital staffers, relatives and others who packed the hospital clinic lobby. “I can’t wait to get home and back to school. Merry Christmas, everybody!”

End Party With Song

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Alvaro’s fifth-grade classmates at George Washington Elementary School in Moorhead, Minn., ended the farewell party by singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

There is hope that Alvaro will regain full use of his limbs, said Dr. William Norberg, the boy’s physician. Tests to assess the damage to his arms and legs are planned for next week, he said.

The boy fell through thin ice Dec. 4 on the Red River, which marks the line between North Dakota and Minnesota, as he tried to retrieve a dead squirrel. He was rescued after 45 minutes under water and arrived at St. Luke’s with no vital signs and a body temperature of 77 degrees.

Doctors used a heart-lung bypass machine to warm him. They are uncertain whether Alvaro suffered brain damage, but say they are encouraged that he has spoken intelligently.

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The nerve damage that impaired his muscle control could have been caused by the cold or the lack of blood circulation after his system shut down in the frigid water, doctors said.

Will Get Favorite Supper

Mary Helen Garza said she planned to serve her son’s favorite supper, tortillas with refried beans, when the family got home.

“This Christmas will be the happiest we’ve ever had,” she said. Alvaro Garza Sr. is a jobless seasonal farm worker.

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The boy has received more than $28,000 from about 1,700 well-wishers around the country.


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