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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow HILEMAN IN GOOD SPIRITS, FAIR CONDITION



By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE — A Wallowa woman who more than five weeks ago survived eight days in a freezing mountain canyon near her home was upgraded from serious to fair condition after her third surgery Wednesday in a Boise hospital.

Two surgeons operated for five hours on Mischelle Hileman, 39. They made skin grafts from her thighs to close the amputations of both her lower legs from last week.

"We won't know until Monday if the grafts will take," Hileman's mother, Jan, said, "but the doctors are very positive."

Early estimates are that if all goes well, Hileman will remain in the hospital another two weeks. Then she could be transferred to a rehabilitation unit, probably for at least another two weeks, Jan said.

Though Hileman has lost the lower part of her legs, she has retained her sense of humor, in in spite of the resulting pain and muscle spasm.

"My legs are doing the Watusi without me," she said.

"I'll be in a wheelchair pretty soon," she told her mother. "This is a big hospital. We'll see if you can find me now."

Her physician, Dr. Robert Barresso, said Hileman has changed his life, Jan said. He is growing a Hileman goatee and says he is going to make sure he has a GPS system with him whenever he goes into the woods.

Jan and husband, Benny, have been with their only daughter since she was rescued Nov. 3.

The Hilemans expressed their appreciation for all the support they have received. Mischelle has had numerous visitors. "It's a real boost," Jan said.

They are preparing to spend Christmas at the hospital. An artificial Christmas tree has been decorated in Mischelle's room, and a CD player provided by a friend is playing Christmas music.

"We wish everyone back home a blessed Christmas, because we have one. We've got our Christmas. She's right here with us."

Season's greetings can be sent to her at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, 1055 N. Curtis Road, Boise, ID 83706.

The Wallowa Mountain Quilters are conducting a quilt raffle for Hileman, who has no insurance. Tickets are available for $1 at the Country Quilter, Savoy's Specialties and the Uncommon Thread in Enterprise.

Contributions can also be made to an account in Hileman's name at any Community Bank branch.


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