Hyperbaric chamber at HCMC helps 2-year-old recover from dog attack injuries

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A 2-year-old Wisconsin girl who lost part of her ear after she was attacked by a dog is recovering thanks to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Kenzie Riemenschneider spent every day for over a month at HCMC to repair head and facial lacerations. The family says it would not have been possible without hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

At the Hyperbaric Medicine unit at HCMC, Kenzie gets unlimited snuggles, playtime and care. What brought the toddler to the hospital stemmed from a tragedy.

In November, Kenzie reached for her family dog’s collar, and out of fear, the dog snapped at Kenzie’s face.

“I heard one dog bark and Kenzie started crying right away and she was holding her ear when I ran to her,” said Andy Riemenschneider, Kenzie’s dad.

Paramedics immediately arrived on scene and found that part of Kenzie’s ear was missing.

“While they were wrapping her up, the paramedic happened to look at the floor and saw part of Kenzie’s ear laying there. We put it in ice and off to the hospital we went,” explained Kenzie’s mom, Jaisa Riemenschneider.

Children’s Minnesota physicians reattached the toddler’s ear, but concerns over it properly healing led Dr. Sivakumar Chinnadurai with Children’s Minnesota to recommend hyperbaric treatment at HCMC to restore blood flow to her reattached ear.

“Certain wounds will have oxygen delivery issues, and if we’re able to increase the oxygen that they’re getting just globally, we can help make things heal appropriately,” explained Dr. Thomas Masters with Hennepin Healthcare’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.

Kenzie spent two hours every day for over a month inside one of the hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Each room is pressurized by higher levels of oxygen.

“We don’t see a whole lot of pediatric cases. We’re really a small niche in medicine. I feel like a lot of physicians are not aware of what we do,” Masters said.

Jaisa Riemenschneider says without the hyperbaric treatments, Kenzie’s ear would not have been reattached.

“If we did not agree to hyperbaric treatment, [Dr. Chinnadurai] would not have attached her ear. He said there was no survival rate of reattaching her ear otherwise,” Kenzie’s mom said.

After 31 treatments, tragedy turned into triumph as Kenzie is almost fully recovered. The family says the 2-year-old got more than just her ear back. She won the hearts of all her caregivers in what could have perceived as a frightening space for a young child.

“It brought tears to my eyes to see the connection she was able to make here,” Jaisa Riemenschneider said.

Kenzie no longer needs treatment, but she will have at least one more surgery.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Kenzie’s recovery.

The family’s dog was given away.