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POW expected to fully recover from multiple fractures

LANDSTUHL, Germany—Here's what Pfc. Jessica Lynch longs for when she can eat solid food again: turkey; applesauce and steamed carrots.

The 19-year-old survivor of Iraqi imprisonment returned to surgery Friday so orthopedic surgeons at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center could work on her broken legs and broken arm.

On Thursday, Lynch underwent spinal surgery to repair a fractured disc that had been pressing painfully on a nerve.

"Her injuries include fractures to her right arm, both legs, right foot and ankle, and lumbar spine," Col. David Rubenstein, the medical center commander, said Friday. She also suffered a head laceration.

"The prognosis for her recovery is excellent," Rubenstein added.

How Lynch broke so many bones remained unclear. American commandos snatched her from her Iraqi captors in a daring nighttime raid in Nasiriyah, Iraq, Tuesday, more than a week after her 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company vehicle made a wrong turn into an ambush. Lynch reportedly resisted the Iraqis until she ran out of bullets.

Twelve other soldiers in Lynch's convoy have been listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

Her rescuers recovered 11 bodies, nine of them buried in shallow graves outside the hospital. It remained unclear Friday whether any of the deceased were members of her unit.

Rubenstein said that except for bone fractures, Lynch suffered only the head laceration. Bone fractures without other injuries are rare in combat.

Contrary to some press reports, "She was not stabbed. She was not shot," Rubenstein added.

Defense Department medical specialists have briefed Lynch's parents, Gregory and Deadra Lynch of Palestine, W.Va., and her parents have spoken at least twice with her by phone.

"It was requested by the doctor we don't bring up too much of the past she has been through," Gregory Lynch told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Rubenstein said his patient was in good humor, in part because Lynch was getting the pink casts she'd asked for. That harkens back to a pink cast she wore proudly on a broken arm in the third grade, her father explained.

"Jessica remains in good spirits and is jovial with a soldier who has accompanied her here from her own unit," Rubenstein said.

The soldier, a woman who is a friend of Lynch's from the 507th, was unavailable for comment and will not speak with reporters before Lynch's treatment has been completed, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The soldier wasn't named.

She will be fed intravenously while enduring multiple surgeries; the hospital's inquiries about her favorite foods are meant to help Lynch focus her on recovery.

Rubenstein described his patient as "an all-American girl," based on her fondness for applesauce, turkey and steamed carrots. He also called her "a daughter any parent would be proud of."


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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