ELKHART — Homan Lumber employee Tommy Woods is conscious and responsive following his first round of surgeries, but his sister says he still has a significant battle ahead.
Woods, a 49-year-old saw operator from Elkhart, was seriously injured Friday morning when the piece of wood flew off the machine he was working on and hit him right below his nose and lodged into his face.
Patricia Woods, Tommy Woods’ sister, said that the safety guards on Woods’ machine came loose, allowing the wood to shoot out.
Woods sustained various injuries, including a broken right cheekbone, jaw and nose, as well as two injured vertebrae, damaged arteries and multiple other breakages around his face.
Patricia Woods noted the piece of wood luckily missed his brain and his spinal cord.
Woods has undergone several surgeries already at IU Health Indianapolis Methodist Hospital, his sister said, but will have to undergo several more.
She explained that the surgeons can only do so much work at a time, meaning Tommy Woods must wait for several other procedures before he fully begins his recovery.
Some of the procedures Tommy Woods has already undergone or must undergo in the future include a tracheotomy and reconstructive surgery around his nose. He’s already had one reconstructive surgery, but will have to have at least one more on Wednesday.
He also needed a feeding tube installed in order to help him eat and drink.
With as grim as his situation appeared initially, Patricia Woods says her brother has already made some positive strides.
“For what he’s been through, he is coming right along,” she said.
Patricia Woods explained that Tommy Woods is alert and, though he isn’t able to speak, he knows who he is and can respond to questions by nodding.
Still, it is going to be a long recovery for the man Patricia Woods described as a hard worker who “would never miss a day.”
“It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process,” Patricia Woods said in a phone interview from Indianapolis, adding that Tommy Woods will likely be hospitalized for several months.
She has remained at the hospital with Tommy’s other siblings, hoping to be able to stay as long as financially possible.
“I can’t leave him,” she said. “He’s going to be here for a while.”