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Mom Who Survived Storm Will Lose Part of Her Feet

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From Associated Press

Doctors on Friday announced that they will partially amputate the feet of Jennifer Stolpa, who with her husband and infant son survived eight days in blizzard conditions in remote northwest Nevada.

The operation is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Monday at Washoe Medical Center .

Dr. Louis Bonaldi, a reconstructive and plastic surgeon who is Mrs. Stolpa’s attending physician, said a surgical team will perform the partial amputation, followed by immediate reconstructive surgery.

“Normally in frostbite cases of this severity the entire foot would be removed,” the hospital said in a written statement. “Dr. Bonaldi says the surgical team chose this procedure in Jennifer’s case in an effort to preserve enough of her feet to allow walking without the use of prostheses.”

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Jennifer Stolpa, 20, and her 21-year-old husband, James, remain in satisfactory condition. Five-month-old Clayton Stolpa is staying with his parents but is not receiving treatment.

The couple’s truck became stranded in a snow drift in the extreme northwestern corner of Nevada Dec. 29 when they tried to take a shortcut on a trip from Castro Valley, Calif., to attend a funeral in Pocatello, Idaho.

The mother and baby huddled in a makeshift cave while James Stolpa trudged nearly 60 miles for help. They were rescued Jan. 6.

The couple suffered severe frostbite on their feet. The baby required treatment for mild dehydration.

Since arriving at Washoe Med on Jan. 7, the couple has undergone twice daily whirlpool treatments in an effort to stimulate the tissue on their feet.

“A series of tests, however, confirm that Jennifer’s feet were irreversibly damaged by frostbite ... prompting doctors to choose surgery as a treatment,” the hospital statement said.

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No decision has been made on whether James Stolpa also will undergo surgery.

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