Bettendorf girl will get to keep her leg after tragic sledding accident

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BETTENDORF-- Lifting, rotating, and raising are movements most people don't think about when getting out of bed, but not Savannah Zaehringer.

Moving a few feet from her bed to wheel chair is her daily dose of physical therapy.

"We work our way up everyday," says Savannah.

She's working her way up from a definite low. It started on a sledding hill.

"When our sled hit the turn, we were flying, about to hit the fence and I put my feet up to stop it," says Savannah.

Savannah's foot stayed caught in the fence on one side while the rest of her body went under.

"She basically amputated her leg on the inside," explains Sasha Zaehringer, Savannah's mom.

She was rushed to the hospital.

"Her leg was dying, and it didn't have blood flow or a pulse," says Sasha.

She was then airlifted to a hospital in Iowa City for emergency surgery to try to save her leg.

"They put me on the surgery table. I was like just get it over with as long as it helps the pain because I was in a lot of pain. It hurt so bad," says Savannah.

Five operations, five blood transfusions and three weeks later, Savannah is home and the outlook is good.

"She obviously can keep her leg," says Sasha.

The road to recovery is far from over, taking 20 pills a day to manage her pain and muscle spasms. With mom constantly checking for infection or circulation problems. Savannah will have to undergo more surgeries in the future, but she says she's ready to fight.

"Just pull through. The whole time I was just saying after this, I'm going to feel better. I'm going to get better," says Savannah.

She has goals now, like walking on her own. She also has goals for the future.

"She wanted to be a veterinarian, but now she's thinking about being a doctor, a vascular doctor," says Sasha.

"So I can help people," Savannah chimes in.

Savannah will return to Iowa City in two weeks for a check up. Doctors say because her injury was so severe and rare, the timeline to get her walking and back to school is hard to pinpoint.

Savannah says the community, people she knows and even those she doesn't, have supported her the whole way through. She says they play an important role in her recovery.

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