Outlook Is Good for Child Injured in Power Saw Accident, Doctors Say


A 3-year-old boy critically injured when the blade of a power saw became embedded in his abdomen is expected to recover with only a deep scar to show for his shocking brush with death, doctors said Wednesday.

“He is a very lucky boy,” said Dr. Mohd Dhar, one of the Western Medical Center-Santa Ana surgeons who operated on Ryan Anthony Galvan for four hours Tuesday night. “If he heals without any complications (infection), he should lead a normal life.”

Dhar said that at first doctors weren’t sure they could save the boy. Surgeons had to reconnect dozens of pieces of large and small intestines. Fortunately, Dhar said, the child’s stomach did not suffer serious injury.


“He should have been cut in two,” he said. “He’s a very small boy, and the saw was very deep and heavy.”

Ryan was taken to the hospital after his father, Antonio Galvan, found him in the side yard of their West Baker Avenue home at 4 p.m. Tuesday with the blade of an electric circular saw--its spring-loaded protective guard removed--lodged in his midsection.

Paramedics transporting the boy to the hospital chose not to remove the saw blade and risk exacerbating the wound, police said.

Dhar said that decision helped keep the boy from losing too much blood.

“They did the right thing,” Dhar said, adding that “the removal (of the saw blade) could have done a lot of damage.”

Antonio Galvan, his eyes a deep red from a long, sleepless night of pacing a hospital hallway and worrying, quietly described the events that led up to the grisly accident, which stemmed from his son’s keen interest in tools.

The fascination started a few months ago when Galvan, 34, began renovating and adding a room to his home.


Ryan “always wants to go out” to the work area, Galvan said. “I have to always keep him away from the tools. So I bought him a little set of play tools to keep him happy.”

But Ryan, the youngest of four children, continued to be drawn to the assortment of hammers, saws and other tools that his father and a family friend were using to build a fourth bedroom.

“Ryan and I just got home from the store,” Galvan said of events on Tuesday. As the father was unpacking groceries, Ryan wandered out the front door and walked to the side of the house, where the unidentified friend was installing new windows.

The friend left the plugged-in saw unattended on the ground for a minute while he went around the corner to get a new blade from his tool box, Galvan said.

Before he even realized that his son was not in the house, Galvan said, he heard screams coming from outside the three-bedroom, single-story home located in a quiet south Fullerton neighborhood.

Rushing out of the house, he spotted Ryan standing on a patio, the heavy saw embedded in his belly.


“At first I thought it was caught on his shirt,” Galvan said. “Then I noticed all the blood.”

With great effort, Galvan tried to keep his son calm as he choked down his own rising feeling of panic.

While the family called 911, Galvan grabbed a pair of heavy chain-cutters from the garage and tried to clip the lock off a front-yard fence so that paramedics could more quickly reach his son. But he was so emotionally distraught that a neighbor had to take the cutters from him and remove the lock.

Although it only took paramedics two minutes to arrive at the house, Galvan said that “it seemed like forever.”

He has been assured that Ryan will not suffer any long-term disabilities from the accident.

Nevertheless, “I’m staying here until I’m sure he’s OK,” Galvan said.

Such accidents are common, said officials at the Maryland-based Consumer Products Safety Commission.


Almost one in five of the nation’s 56,000 power-tool accidents last year involved a saw, said commission spokesman Carl Blechschmidt.

A high percentage of those power-saw accidents, like the one in Fullerton, occurred because someone removed a spring-loaded guard that automatically covers the metal blade when not in use, Blechschmidt said.

The accident probably would not have happened had the protective guard been intact or the tool unplugged, he said.

“Unfortunately, it is a fact that a lot of people remove those guards,” Blechschmidt said. The safety feature is most often removed by professionals who find the tool easier and faster to use without the guard.

Blechschmidt said common sense and simple precautions could help reduce the number of power tool-related accidents.

“Children and these types of power tools just don’t mix,” he said. “They should not be left in places where kids can reach them. It’s that simple.”



Tool type Number Power sanders 1,300 Power routers 1,600 Power lathes 700 Power jointers 1,300 Power shapers 100 Other portable or stationary power tools 2,500 Bench & table saws 21,300 Band saws 4,700 Radial arm saws 1,300 Power hacksaws 500 Power drills: portable 700 stationary 650 Other power saws 5,100 Saber saws 400 Portable power workshop grinders 500 Power drills 2,400 Power saws 11,000 Total 56,050

Source: Consumer Products Safety Commission. Researched by Elena Brunet