Saturday, October 30, 1999

Shark survivor
is offered free
medical care

Any procedures done at
the Shriners Hospital will be
covered, an official says

By Tim Ryan


Jesse Spencer, the Big Island surfer who nearly lost his right arm in a shark attack earlier this month, has been offered free medical care by the Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu.

Spencer, 16, and his mother, Rose Singarella, of Kailua-Kona, were in Honolulu earlier this week at the request of Shriners orthopedic physician Kent Reinker to meet with medical staff about future surgeries and follow-up treatments, a hospital official said.

The family has said that Spencer's medical expenses may exceed $200,000 for the three surgeries already completed and additional operations to reattach nerves, ligaments, tendons and mus-cles severed in the Oct. 1 attack while Spencer was surfing north of Kailua-Kona. The family's medical insurance only covers $2,000 worth of treatment.

The hospital is conferring with an orthopedic specialist in Honolulu to decide whether Spencer's additional surgery will be done at the Shriners Hospital or at Queen's Hospital, where the first three surgeries were done, the hospital official said. Dr. Daniel Singer did the surgeries at Queen's.

Any procedures done at Shriners -- including surgeries, follow-up care and medical supplies -- will be covered by the organization, the official said.

Spencer's mother filled out a financial aid application to Shriners Hospital within the first week of Spencer's shark attack. She followed up with a telephone call.

"When I talked to Reinker on the phone, he had us fly over immediately so he could examine Jesse," Singarella said. "He said (Shriners) would take care of him."

Jesse Spencer will return to Honolulu with his father, Terrence, for further follow-up examinations in early November.

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