August 26, 2002 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE — God was with them in that operating room, Portland surgeons told Len Lindsley after they successfully reattached the blood vessels of his son's severed hand in the early morning of Aug. 21.

Phillip Lindsley's hand had been cut off the previous afternoon at a Wallowa mill.

Phillip, 28, may be released from Oregon Health and Science University Hospital this week, then will return in two weeks for more surgery.

Lindsley has received five pints of blood so far. Doctors want to build up the supply before the next surgery to reattach ligaments and nerves, his father said.

It may take six months for Lindsley to begin to regain feeling in the hand, Len said. Lindsley is expected to be able to extend his fingers and put them together and pinch, the father said, but he may never regain the full use of his hand.

"It's too early to tell, We don't know God's plan."

Lindsley is pretty happy to have his hand back, the father said, and that he'll be able to go fishing again.

"He's been in good spirits throughout the whole thing."

"Are you right-handed Phillip?" asked the emergency room physician in Enterprise.

"I am now," responded Lindsley after seeing his left hand in a cooler on the counter. Then he reassured the doctor that he had always been right-handed.

Phillip has had wonderful doctors and excellent care, Len said.

An EMT in Wallowa ran over to the Wallowa Forest Products mill before the ambulance arrived, Len said. But, even before that, "the men at the mill did a fantastic job."

Lindsley was working in the planer section of the mill, his father said. He was operating a chop saw, called a hula saw.

Lindsley told the man next to him that he'd cut his hand off. Then Phillip wrapped a shirt around his wound, ran to his boss and asked for a tourniquet.

Guy Journout ran down the belt and retrieved the hand.

"It was ready to go into the chipper," Len said. Journout immediately put the hand on ice.

The ambulance arrived within six minutes of the 9-1-1 call from the mill. Len credited those on the scene with having Lindsley ready, so that the ambulance crew started an i.v. and was enroute to the hospital within two minutes.

Lindsley was stabilized at Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise. A thunderstorm at the Joseph Airport prevented the air ambulance from landing, so a a ground ambulance transported the injured man to the Union County Airport, where he met the plane.

Once released from the hospital, Lindsley will remain with friends in the Portland area. There a nurse can monitor him daily, check his pulse and change bandages. He is to do finger exercises to stretch muscles and tendons, his father said.

Lindsley is in high spirits, Len said, and appreciates everyone who helped him and wants to thank everyone for their prayers and cards.