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Boy trampled by cattle makes remarkable recovery

MADISON, Wis. - A southwest Wisconsin boy is alive, remarkably, after a farm accident that by all accounts should have killed him

Tanner Kleist is 9 years old and his lived his life on a farm outside Livingston. His mom, Becky, describes him as your quintessential rural kid. 

“Feeds, bales, help milk calves,” she said. “Rides in the tractor. Daddy lets him steer once in a while.” 

Tanner hasn’t been home in three weeks, though. Instead, he’s at a home away from home, in American Family Children’s Hospital. Last month, Tanner was trampled by cattle in a pen. 

"I was there to watch him essentially turn blue,” Becky said. 

Tanner had a serious liver injury. Dr. Peter Nichol with the children’s hospital called it lethal. 

“The last three or four times I’ve seen this, the child has died,” he said. 

Nichol performed Tanner’s first of four surgeries, essentially doing damage control to stop the bleeding in a liver that had been ripped in two. He has 31 others at his side, calling in transplant surgeons to help with the procedure. 

Tanner’s parents can’t thank them enough. 

"To know that that same surgeon has told me multiple times that this is typically not survivable, and then him saying the last three have died – yeah,” Becky said. “It's pretty surreal that, he may not say miracle but to us, he's a miracle. To us, Tanner's a miracle."

Nichol said without the American Family Children’s Hospital and the expertise inside, there might have been a different outcome.

“This was 32 people pulling together for one kid,” Dr. Nichol said. “This is what we're supposed to do, right? This is why we're here."

Tanner is still at the children’s hospital. His parents aren’t sure when he’ll be able to come home, but are so thankful for his recovery. 


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