ST. GEORGE — On Jan. 6, the life of a former Dixie High School football player with aspirations to play in college changed dramatically when his hand was severed in a work accident.
Nate Mahi, an employee of a St. George cabinet shop located in the industrial area near Commerce Drive, severed his right hand – all but his pinky finger – with a saw he was operating.
Nate Mahi’s quick thinking coworkers were able to recover the severed hand and put it on ice as well as drive him safely to the hospital before he lost too much blood.
His parents, Nephi and Norma Mahi, credit his coworkers with saving their son’s hand and quite possibly his life.
At the hospital, because the severed hand appeared to be in good condition, the decision was made to transfer him via Intermountain Life Flight to a team of specialists at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nephi Mahi said.
There, doctors spent eight hours reattaching the blood vessels and arteries of his hand. Nate Mahi will undergo a second surgery in the coming weeks to reattach his tendons and nerves, and there is a possibility of an additional four surgeries over the course of the next six months to a year, Nephi Mahi said.
Currently, he is in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center’s trauma center where he is being closely monitored for infection and having his bandages changed often. Whether or not the surgeries will be successful in restoring movement and feeling to Nate Mahi’s hand is not yet certain, his father said.
It is a major blow to the former high school football player whose future goal was to play in college.
Nate Mahi graduated in 2019 and married his sweetheart Keltsey Hess Mahi, and the two entered into the pharmacy tech program at Dixie Tech. It was the couple’s plan to complete the program so they could both work at decent jobs while attending college.
Nate Mahi, a smaller football player as far as college players go, also intended to use the year to strength train and put on weight before heading to Texas where he hoped to walk on at a junior college.
The loss of his hand has put those plans on hold and also caused an unexpectedly emotional impact on his parents, both of whom have supported Nate Mahi in pursuing his dreams.
Right after the accident, when Nate Mahi was at his lowest, he told his mom that he was worried he was going to lose his wife and that his football dreams were down the drain. This vulnerable admission had both parents in tears as they talked about their son’s future.
Both Nate Mahi and Nephi Mahi work for the same cabinetry company, and although Nephi Mahi was not at the shop when the accident occurred, it has been a roller coaster of emotions for the loving father.
“Every parent that has a kid hopes nothing like this ever happens to them,” Nephi Mahi said. “When it does happen, you think you can handle it, but mentally it’s hard.”
But things are starting to look up, at least emotionally, for the family. Nate Mahi’s wife has been by his side the entire time and his outlook continues to improve.
“I told him, nothing’s done, I guarantee it, ” Norma Mahi said. And everyone is starting to believe it.
Nephi Mahi said his son understands the long road ahead of him, and he doesn’t plan to give up. He also spends a great deal of time asking if his parents are doing OK.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by Mahi’s cousin to help alleviate some of the financial burdens the couple will be facing on his long road to recovery.
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