NEW ORLEANS -- A couple of times during the summer, doctors at Children's Hospital are faced with repairing the terrible injuries caused by a lawnmower.
Now one family hopes its tragic story will help keep other children safe.
June 9, in the back yard of a Marrero home, a little girl's life changed forever.
"I was in the den ironing and when I heard the scream, you know, I just did what a mother do, just ran out and grabbed her. Got some towels and wrapped it up and dial 911," said Tenecia Mason, Serenity Craft's mother who knew how to stop the bleeding since she is a registered nurse.
Serenity, 3, was excited that she was going to go see a movie later that day, so she dashed into the yard. That's when she slipped on damp grass and fell under the blade of her uncle's lawnmower.
"It's a dirty injury. There's grass and organic debris and dirt in the wound and that can cause bone infections, soft tissue infections," said Dr. William Accousti, a LSU Health Sciences Center pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who treated Serenity at Children's Hospital.
"I had to go to the hospital but I can't walk," said Serenity Craft from her wheelchair.
She lost half of one foot and skin on the side of the other. A month in the hospital, several surgeries and skin grafts later, Serenity still has not walked. White coats cause her to cry. Just seeing doctors approach her causes trauma. She will not remove her bandages.
Even though Serenity is only 3 years old, she also understands the psychological part of her injury. Part of her healing and treatment will include mental health counseling.
"She have a lot of nightmares at night. A lot of anxiety about the pain. Just the remembrance of the lawnmower cutting across, and I think just the anxiety of thinking that's about to happen again," said her mother.
Physical therapy and a shoe insert will help her balance and walk again one day. She will get a cosmetic prosthetic when her foot is fully grown so she can wear open toe shoes. Doctors say keep children far away from mowers at all times.
"One child was struck in the head and actually had to have brain surgery from a piece of metal flying out from under the lawn mower," said Dr. Accousti of a previous patient.
Her mother stays upbeat and keeps reminding her daughter she will thrive again.
"I talk to her positively all the time, every day, and just keep a going. And I say, 'Reni, this is something we have to do and you're going to be a track star,'" said Mason.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be at least 12 to use a lawn mower and 16 for a riding mower.
But doctors say parents should judge if their teen is mature enough. For lawn mower safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Mowing-the-Lawn-Can-Be-a-Dangerous-Chore.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token First aid after a lawn mower injury from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00611