Doctors: First-time surgery saved boy mauled by dogs

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Doctors at the Gates Vascular Institute had to do something that’s never been done to save the life of a 7-year-old attacked by two dogs in early June.

Kaeden Mitchell was released from the hospital last week, and he and his mother were reunited with the team of doctors who likely made history this summer.

“The kid has so much spirit. It’s remarkable,” said Vikki Avino, Kaeden’s mother. “I feel blessed. I’m going to be honest, I really didn’t expect him to be sitting here today.”

Surgeons from Women and Children’s Hospital and GVI performed a first-of-its kind emergency surgery, when time was not on their side.

“We sort of took an off-the-shelf device, and used it for something that it wasn’t intended, and used it for a life-saving purpose,” said Dr. Elad Levy, medical director of neuroendovascular serves at GVI. “Not a lot makes me nervous. I’ve seen a lot in this town. This one made me nervous, to be honest. This one made me think that, if we cannot open these vessels, we’d probably be looking at a tragedy.”

The June 7 attack by two Rottweilers in the backyard of a home in Niagara Falls left Kaeden with critical injuries, the most serious of which was to the two vessels that supply blood to the back of the brain.

“He was attacked at the head, where you can still see he’s wearing his dressings, at the neck, chest and his extremities, so he had lots of soft tissue wounds that were life threatening, for bleeding specifically,” said Dr. Kathryn Bass, medical director of pediatric trauma at Women and Children’s.

“It’s very rare to survive without these vessels,” Levy said. “And both of them were torn from the trauma of the dog bites, just from the vigor, the shaking, tore both these arteries.”

Doctors used a stent designed to treat aneurysms in adult brains to reconstruct one of the two vessels.

“Typically, this is not done in children,” Levy said. “We have not seen it reported in the literature for children anywhere. We believe it’s a first-time stent reconstruction. We’ve never put this in a child before.”

And there were other factors to Kaeden’s success beyond his surgical team.

“He’s young, he’s healthy and resilient, so in spite of facing what was life threatening at the scene, life threatening at our ED (emergency department), and life threatening throughout all of his procedures, he really came through,” Bass said.

And, through it all, Kaeden’s attitude remained true to the little boy he was before the attack.

“His personality, his spirit, has been amazing,” Bass said. “He’s been through a lot but I think he’s been able to share all the gifts, the candies, the toys, with all the kids in the hospital. He’s phenomenal. It’s been amazing to watch.”

Kaeden will likely have to be on an aspirin regimen for the rest of this life. But he will be busy, if the past week at home is any indication.

Avino said Kaeden’s getting constant visitors, many just strangers, wishing him well, dropping off a video game, a fish for his aquarium, or, one of his favorites, a pizza. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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