Setting: Alternate history, similar to present day,
but they're in SPACE!
but there's MAGIC! However magic doesn't actually enter into this question really. The place is a large Atlantic island that doesn't exist in the real world.
Searched: "non-surgeon" emergency amputation, field surgery shoulder amputation, traumatic shoulder amputations, "how to" shoulder amputation (etc). I found a lot of results from field manuals for army surgeons, and some results for people on what to do if someone has a limb torn off and you need to stabilize them while waiting for help (which is helpful), and some results on doctors who aren't surgeons performing amputations with help via text message from surgeons, lol. But nothing on performing an amputation itself, for someone without medical training. Which I can understand.
Also read the Wikipedia article on "amputation" and some related articles.
Here's the background.( Why they don't want to wait for a doctor.Collapse )
So, now we come to the problems. I understand that this will be very, very risky, and I want it to be so. If there's only a 5% chance for James to survive, that's fine. I just don't want to write it in a way that there would be zero chance for him to survive.
1. Biggest one, of course, is that neither Rabbit nor James are surgeons, and they can't be coached through it by one either. (I'm comfortable with them both having knowledge of anatomy, though, especially James.) They are approaching this with the attitude of "No other option, so do the best we can, and if he dies, well, we knew that was the overwhelming probability." But I need James to live.
2. I assume that they would do what I (a non-doctor like them) would think would be the easiest way to amputate at the shoulder, namely, put James on a table, dislocate the shoulder (James would know how to do this--would Rabbit do it with or without a tool? she's a pretty strong woman), cut the arm off as quickly as possible (she has power tools that can do this), and then staunch the bleeding as well as one can, turning James onto his side to raise the wound above his heart. Would this, in and of itself, totally kill him? Would a table saw-like device have any drawbacks that I wouldn't be aware of?
3. Infection (the germ kind). Magic can boil water instantly, and the tiny kitchen has running water. Would this be sufficient to clean and sterilize tools that she's been using to cut metal, wood, etc? Assume that Rabbit is keeping her tools in good condition.
4. Wound-staunching materials. This is basically a large workshop with tiny one-person bungalow attached. I imagine she has a first aid kit, but will that include enough materials for such a major wound as losing an arm at the shoulder? Rabbit is willing to sacrifice her sheets, towels, etc, but she only has an amount that would be reasonable for a tiny summer bungalow with one person in it. How much cloth is needed for a wound like that? Would she want to put medicine onto the wound or not?
5. Cauterization. She's got metal and the ability to heat it. Would this be a better idea than just bandaging it?
6. After she performs the amputation and does what she can to stop the bleeding (bandage or cauterize and bandage), she leaves, gets on her broom, and goes as fast as she can to the nearest healer (about 20 minutes), tells them the situation, they get their stuff together, and get on a faster mode of transportation and come back (probably another 20 minutes). Can James survive that 40 minutes without dying from exsanguination? How about shock?
For character development purposes I would rather have the situation go as described (Rabbit performing surgery by herself and leaving James alone while she gets help afterwards). But if that is untenable, would having another person there to go get the healer while Rabbit performed the amputation and stayed with James make the situation possible?
Again, I don't mind his survival being unlikely, I just don't want it to be impossible.
I know there have been cases where people with arms trapped under boulders while mountain climbing have amputated their own limbs and then made it to safety by themselves, so I assume that there has to be a way to do this...Edit:
To clarify: not a Harry Potter fanfic. Original work.