Man who lost part of finger during Maria gets surgery in South Miami

SOUTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - A man from Puerto Rico got much needed help in South Florida after he nearly lost his finger during Hurricane Maria.

“The eye just passed by, everything turned around,” said Manny Kianes-Rivera as he captured cellphone video of Hurricane Maria as it passed over Puerto Rico. However, the young man would not escape unscathed — he lost part of his finger in the process.

The JetBlue mechanic tells 7News as the eye came over his home, the strong winds shattered a window upstairs causing extreme pressure in the house. He ran up to close the doors and that’s when it happened.

“One of the gusts came in slammed the door in my face,” said Kianes-Rivera. “I could get out of the way but my finger didn’t. It cut it right on the spot.”

With just a paper towel over the wound, Kianes-Rivera waited overnight for the storm to pass — walking more than two miles with a friend before finding police. After visiting two local hospitals, there was no hope in sight.

“People that were going in were being taken care of two days after because there was too many people,” Kianes-Rivera said. “Generators were collapsing and the hospitals were shutting down.”

That’s when JetBlue stepped in just in time, flying Kianes-Rivera to their Fort Lauderdale hub on one of their humanitarian flights.

“They basically gave me the green light to say, ‘Take care of him. Do whatever you have to do,'” said Mike Torrent, the JetBlue supervisor of technical operations.

Four days later, South Miami Hospital’s Dr. Roberto Miki got to work to save his finger.

“Yeah he had a complete amputation of [part of] his finger,” Dr. Miki said. “He had exposed bone there, a nerve that was exposed there as well.”

With the circumstances as they are in storm ravaged Puerto Rico, the doctor says could have easily lost his hand or even his arm. Kianes-Rivera admits he’s one of the lucky ones.

“Man, thank you. You have a friend. You did more than healing my wound,” said Kianes-Rivera to Miki.

Kianes-Rivera gets his stitches off in about a month and plans to go back to work for JetBlue as soon as possible, but not before he returns home to help with the recovery effort.