JetBlue Airways flew one of its employees to South Florida after his finger was partially amputated while he waited out Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Manuel Kianes-Rivera, an aircraft maintenance technician for JetBlue Airways and a native of the island, hunkered down at his home in Yabucoa during the storm.
Kianes-Rivera injured his index finger, exposing the bone, when he tried to close doors in his home as the powerful winds came through.
"It was probably 150 mph winds at that moment," he said.
The maintenance technician waited several hours for the storm to pass before he sought medical care at two hospitals in Puerto Rico.
Kianes-Rivera said he wasn't able to get proper care in Puerto Rico because they didn't have enough supplies and the generators were over-heating, so his employer stepped in to fly him to their Fort Lauderdale hub on one of the airline's humanitarian flights.
"I was able to contact our emergency response team. I let them know the situation and they immediately said, 'Do whatever you have to do to bring him home and take care of him," Mike Torrent, of JetBlue Airways, said.
Dr. Roberto Miki, a hand and orthopedic surgeon at South Miami Hospital, performed surgery to save Kianes-Rivera's finger.
"Waiting any longer would have risked a major infection, causing the loss of his finger and arm," Miki said.
Kianes-Rivera is doing fine after surgery and will soon be able to return to work.
"I feel confident that I'm going to be able to get back to where I was," he said.
Kianes-Rivera's stitches are expected to be removed in 30 days and he will then begin physical therapy.
He said he is extremely grateful to JetBlue Airways for flying him to South Florida for medical care and to the team at South Miami Hospital for saving his index finger.
Kianes-Rivera plans to return home to Puerto Rico this weekend.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.