Right now, 30 children are being treated for lawnmower-related amputations at the Shriners Hospital here in Houston. And those are just the patients with the worst injuries. That's not counting kids who receive lacerations or nick the tip of a finger or toe. Dr. Richard Haynes is the chief of staff at Shriners.
"These kids are very sick when they get hurt. There's some that have even had two extremities injured. But I think the message that we have is two-fold: these are normal kids that are going to get up and run and they're going to be competing for your job and mine. And the second message is these are preventable injuries."
Eddie Macejewski is seven years old and already a dedicated Little League player. He also has a prosthetic leg. Eddie's father, Dan, was using their riding mower to mulch some leaves on Christmas Day in 2003, when the accident happened.
"And so I looked around to the right side and I never did see Eddie and just for some reason I just glanced down and I saw Eddie was already under the mower. And...Eddie was very short, he was about 3 1/2 years old at the time. It was shocking to me, it just hit me so fast I didn't even know I had run over him."
Eddie was referred to the Shriners Hospital, where the lower part of his leg had to be amputated. Dr. Haynes says these injuries are more common than people imagine. Injuries usually occur as a result of being run over or backed into, riding as a passenger and falling off, or when the mower kicks out a projectile object.
"If you're using a mower of any type, the children do not belong in the yard they belong in the house. Lawnmower safety we think is a very important message. Lawnmowers are -- have utilitarian value but they're not for entertainment purposes and children don't belong around them."
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports more than 8,000 children are injured by lawnmowers each year. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.