Tortilla worker yet to recover
‘‘It just keeps getting worse... I start to feel better and then another thing happens.’’
A Queenstown teenager who had a part of his finger removed after a tortilla factory accident may lose his other four digits.
Daniel Figueroa, 19, suffered major injuries to his right arm when it was crushed in a conveyor belt on November 23.
He also suffered severe burns in the incident.
The end of one finger has been removed, as the burn damage threatened to spread into the bone.
There is a possibility parts of the remaining four fingers will also have to be amputated.
‘‘It just keeps getting worse,’’ Figueroa said.
The former Wakatipu High School student had the first piece of finger removed on January 2.
The bone near his elbow had also not healed.
‘‘This bit near my elbow is so dead.
‘‘There’s a vein there and it’s not covered by any skin,’’ he said.
Figueroa has had four operations since his arm was crushed and burnt as he attempted to remove a stuck tortilla at Remarkable Tortillas.
He was initially hospitalised with severe burns, damage to his elbow, broken bones and badly damaged nerves in his wrist.
He spent Christmas Day and New Years Day at Dunedin Hos- pital with his mother, while the rest of the family were in the resort.
He had since been able to return home to Queenstown, but was struggling to recover, he said.
‘‘I start to feel better and then another thing happens.’’
A district nurse visits Figueroa every two days.
His next hospital appointment in two weeks.
A loss of blood from the incident caused mild anaemia, with iron levels dropping ‘‘really low’’ and an 8kg weight loss, Figueroa said.
‘‘I’ve been so pale, when I am normally quite dark skinned,’’ he added.
When the incident happened, Daniel was working with two other workers who called police, the Fire Service, and St John.
The Remarkable Tortillas factory was back to its full production five days after the incident, with WorkSafe New Zealand still investigating.
Figueroa’s family moved from Chile about eight years ago.