By Shannon Perrine. From WTAE Pittsburgh. Originally posted: March 2, 2016. Original Article.


In November, Apel was loading firewood with a machine on his family’s Clarion County farm. His sleeve got caught in the machine and his right arm, which is his dominant arm, was severed from his body.

Four months later, he came to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for a follow-up appointment. His surgeon, Dr. Lorelei Grunwaldt had a surprise for him. A face-to-face meeting with former Pittsburgh Pirate Sean Casey.

The two of them even played a game of catch at the doctor’s office.

Apel has some movement and function in his reattached right arm. But, he now uses his left arm to both throw and catch a baseball. Taking off the glove and putting it back on when he needs to.

“He doesn’t feel sorry for himself, he just plows ahead. If he struggles in something, he finds a way to do it, he was trying balloons in the doctor’s office a little bit ago, he just figured out how to tie his shoes,” said his mother Angie Apel.

Seth Apel relies on his faith. His father gives him a Bible verse every day.
“The one he gave me was, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,’” said Apel.

Seth’s doctors were able to reattach his arm because the paramedics who took him to the hospital on a helicopter back in November, also put his arm on ice in a cooler. During an hours-long surgery, the medical team reattached bones, nerves, muscle and skin. They would not know how successful it would be for months.

They are cautiously optimistic.

Dr. Grunwaldt said, “I wish I had a crystal ball, I don’t. But, based on the way things are going now, I’m very encouraged.”

Seth said he feels his job is to encourage other people going through similar challenges.

“Just give them the encouragement to just keep going. I like a challenge, so it’s a good way to do it.”