MIDLAND, Texas -- Jessica McClure, the toddler whose fight for life transfixed the nation, was rescued Friday from the abandoned well where she survived 58 hours without food or water, crying 'mama' as workers dug her path to freedom.
The 18-month-old child, who fell into the narrow well while playing Wednesday morning and became wedged 22 feet underground, emerged from the rescue shaft at 7:55 p.m. CDT in the arms of paramedic Steve Forbes. Her face was bloody and swathed in bandages.
Jessica was taken in serious condition to Midland General Hospital, where doctors were concerned she might face amputation of her right foot because of poor circulation, Dr. Carolyn Rhode said. No internal injuries were found, however, and her condition was upgraded to stable late Friday night.
Dr. Paul Best said, 'There are areas where the skin has been damaged. Her leg was twisted .... The orthopedic surgeon is optimistic, and there is still a good chance she may keep the foot.'
Jessica ate an orange a Popsicle Friday night, the only food she had eaten since her ordeal began, and underwent treatment for 90 minutes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, designed to speed healing of tissues.
Doctors said the blueness in her toes, a possible indication of gangrene, had almost disappeared when she came out of the oxygen chamber.
'She's going to need a lot of love and a lot of attention,' Best said.
Dr. Debbie Reese, a pediatrician, said the girl might require plastic surgery because of the way her head was wedged inside the hole. Reese said the cramped space put pressure on the forehead.
'We feel like the head may require plastic surgery. It's a lot like a bed sore,' she said.
Jessica, who slept about 3 hours during the ordeal, also suffered from dehydration, minor scrapes and a bruise on her head and will suffer emotional trauma as a result of her ordeal, Rhode said. Her right leg was straight up parallel with her body and her hip was out of position, she said.
She weighed 17.5 points, down four pounds from her most recent weighing six weeks ago.
Rhode said the child was quiet and 'kind of bewildered' but added, 'She's a real spunky girl and has done great.'
Jessica's parents, Reba Gayle and Chip McClure, both 18, accompanied her to the hospital.
As an anxious nation watched on live television, a rousing cheer roared from the determined rescue workers who toiled more than two days to free the toddler child. Several cried.
'I think she was scared, but not in much pain,' said paramedic Robert O'Donnell, who accompanied Forbes into the rescue tunnel.
'I found out her nickname was Juicy, and she responded to me every time I used it,' O'Donnell said. 'Her hands were at the side of her head and her right foot was next to the right side of her head. Once we got loose, we took off.'
The toddler, clad in a blue shirt, a diaper, socks and thongs, had been trapped in the rock-encased abandoned well since about 10 a.m. Wednesday. She had bandages wrapped around her head and her left arm. Her eyes were open and she appeared alert.
Drillers placed a sign reading 'Thank You, America' on their rig after the child's rescue, then gathered in a circle for cheers and tears.
'I don't usually cry, but who cares,' said police Sgt. Andy Glasscock, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Added Bruce Peeler, who helped man the line that pulled Jessica to the surface, 'When she reached up and wiped her little eye, it was all worth it.'
A rescue worker said Jessica's body was covered with petroleum jelly to ease her way through the narrow passageway carved by workers. Rescuers 'brought her out feet first' with the help of a pair of forceps, such as those used in infant deliveries.
She was brought to the surface on an infant backboard hoisted by cable. She had been wrapped in gauze bandages to prevent movement and possible injury during the rescue.
Jessica fell into the 22-foot-deep well while playing in her aunt's back yard. The well's opening is only 8 inches wide and to reach her, rescue teams were forced to dig the parallel shaft, then tunnel to the wider section of the well where she was trapped.