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Sculptor’s Arm Injured During Knee Surgery

AUSTIN (CN) - Sculptor William Worrell claims in court that a 7-hour surgery for a double knee replacement injured a nerve in his elbow so badly he still cannot sculpt, 2 years later.

Worrell, a painter and sculptor, claims the ulnar nerve in his right arm was injured, perhaps irreparably, during the surgery on his knees.

The ulnar nerve is the one that jangles when hit, causing children to call the elbow the funnybone.

Worrell says on his home Internet page that much of his work is based on "ancient pictographs found in abundance along the confluence of the Lower Pecos River with the Middle Rio Grande."

His works are collected worldwide: Texas owns his monumental bronze, "The Maker of Peace," which overlooks the ancient Fate Bell rock shelter at Seminole Canyon State Historical Park.

Worrell sued Seton Medical Group and affiliates, Capitol Anesthesiology Association and Dr. Kurt J. Knauth, in Travis County District Court.

In the 11-page complaint, Worrell says he went to the defendant Seton Medical Center for a bilateral knee replacement in November 2011.

When he awoke from surgery, Worrell says, he had no feeling in the fingers of his right hand.

He says he has sought treatment for more than 2 years and "prayed that time would heal the ulnar nerve, to no avail."

He says the injury has significantly affected his ability to work and express himself as a painter and sculptor.

According to Worrell's website , he has full-time studios in Santa Fe, N.M., and in Texas. Worrell says he has had "a life-long love affair with the land" that compels him "to draw it, paint it, sculpt it, to reshape its substances into vessels and microcosmic portraits of the land itself."

He seeks medical expenses, damages for loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, pain, inconvenience, mental anguish and costs.

He is represented by Blake C. Erskine, Jr. with Erskine & Blackburn.

Defendant Dr. Knauth did the pre-operative anesthesia assessment. The doctors who did the actual surgery are not named as defendants.

Dr. Knauth does not appear to be named as a defendant because Worrell believes he did anything wrong.

He says in the complaint that Knauth's exam indicated that Worrell had no medical issues that would complicate his recovery: that Worrell's hospital chart "notes state there was no evidence of neurological deficits involving plaintiff's right hand, right brachial plexus and/or right upper extremity nerves, specifically the ulnar nerve in his right arm."

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