The sole survivor of the Sago coal mine explosion that killed 12 miners was moved Thursday afternoon to a hospital in Pittsburgh where he was receiving specialized treatment for oxygen deprivation, West Virginia University hospital officials said.Randal McCloy, 26, of Simpson, Taylor County, left WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital late Thursday afternoon with a WVU medical team, according to Bill Case, hospital spokesman. McCloy will receive treatment in Allegheny General Hospital’s dual-chamber hyperbaric unit.McCloy was rescued Wednesday after being trapped in the Sago Mine near Tallmansville for more than 42 hours.He remains in a coma. Doctors said McCloy may have suffered a brain injury.
“Mr. McCloy’s organ systems have responded fairly well to the treatment he has received over the last 36 hours,” said Dr. Larry Roberts, who directs WVU’s Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center. “His left lung is no longer collapsed. But we have not seen the neurological improvement we would like to see.”Roberts said the specialized oxygen treatment at Allegheny General — about 75 miles north of Morgantown — may help McCloy’s neurological recovery. The Pittsburgh hospital’s oxygen unit can accommodate patients, such as McCloy, with breathing tubes.McCloy’s family agreed with the transfer Thursday afternoon.
McCloy was struggling with the effects of oxygen deprivation to vital organs, including his brain, said Dr. John Prescott, an emergency medicine physician at WVU. McCloy’s lungs, heart, kidneys and liver were showing slight improvement Thursday, Prescott said.McCloy remains in critical condition. Prescott said McCloy’s coma was not medically induced and that drugs used to sedate him are wearing off.“We do believe there has been some injury to the brain,” Prescott said at a Thursday press conference. “The fact that he is not waking up as we had hoped he would do, that would be the reason why.”Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the breathing of pure oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber. The therapy program gets large amounts of oxygen to the body’s tissues and helps a variety of conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning. The oxygen therapy also can be used in the treatment of brain injuries.McCloy, who worked at the Sago Mine for three years, was the youngest of the miners trapped in the mine after the explosion. Twelve other miners died.The Associated Press contributed to this reportTo contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.