Surgeon: Knife was millimeters away from slashing Neville's arte - WNEM TV 5

Surgeon: Knife was millimeters away from slashing Neville's artery

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Jeff Neville (Source: LinkedIn) Jeff Neville (Source: LinkedIn)

Surgeons say the large jungle knife used in an attack on an airport officer was just millimeters away from severing his artery. 

Members of Hurley Medical Center's Level 1 Trauma Team gave an update Friday on the medical condition of Police Lt. Jeff Neville after he was stabbed in the neck Wednesday at Bishop International Airport in Flint.

Amor Ftouhi is charged in the attack. The 49-year-old Ftouhi is a Canadian from Tunisia. 

The stabbing has been declared an "act of terror" by the FBI.

Dr. Don Scholten, a trauma surgeon at Hurley, said when Neville arrived at the emergency department at 10:02 a.m. it was evident he had life-threatening injuries.

The officer had an approximately 12-inch length cut that extended from his Adam's Apple to the back of the neck, up as high as his jaw, Scholten said.

"A penetrating injury to the neck, whether it's from a knife or from a gun, is automatically designated in our protocols as a life threatening injury and requires the highest level of response," Scholten said.

Doctors immediately went into "damage control" as they continued to stop the bleeding. 

During the commotion, Neville stayed calm, Scholten said. 

“There’s no question he understood he had been involved in a major trauma event,” Scholten said. "He was calm, he was cooperative. He appeared to understand the situation he was in. I think most of that comes from his law enforcement training."

Scholten said the reaction was not usual for someone who had faced such a trauma. 

"He appeared to be very much aware, very much participatory, very much understanding of the situation – yet was not acting out. He appeared to have a very calm demeanor associated with it. Most folks would not do that. It would be more of a fire drill, there would be much more reaction from the patient," Scholten said. 

Within minutes Neville was rushed to surgery where multiple teams were standing by. The surgeons found the knife was millimeters away from severing Neville's major artery, blood vessels and wind pipe. 

Scholten said it was evident the attacker used "significant force." 

“It wasn’t a surgical cut. There’s chatter. There seems to be chatter with how it went through the tissue," Scholten said. 

In just over two hours, surgeons were able to repair the "flap-like laceration" on Neville's neck. He was taken to the ICU in critical condition, but has since been upgraded to good condition, Scholten said. 

The officer continues to recovery, but it could be weeks before he is back to normal activity like chewing and smiling due to the swelling. 

Scholten said first responders played a major role in saving Neville's life. 

“Hemorrhaging control by first responders is absolutely lifesaving,” he said. 

Neville is expected to be released from the hospital this weekend. 

"He's alert, awake, has resumed his usual, I believe congenial disposition and has been an excellent patient," Scholten said.

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