Valley surgeons carve up some Halloween fun

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX  -- Scalpel, please! With Halloween just days away, some valley doctors are testing their surgery skills on some round orange patients: pumpkins!

It's the annual Doc-O-Lantern Pumpkin Carving Contest at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. Some of the valley's top surgeons wielded the tools of their trade to show off their pumpkin carving skills.

Surgeons sliced and diced their gourds, creating scary masterpieces in just 30 minutes. In fact, "scary": was the theme of the contest this year.

This year's winner was liver surgeon Dr. Richard Manch, who carved up a "vomiting" pumpkin. "It was years of hard work and though that went into this project," he joked. But he also had a serious message.

"I take care of patients with liver disease and I take care of a lot of people around the holidays because people over-indulge. They stay out late, they drink too much, they do everything too much. They get sick," he says. "A particular concern is the abuse of alcohol. So there is a serious message here."

The surgeons also reminded Valley residents about important Halloween safety tips.

“Hospitals all over the nation can be haunted by Halloween-related injuries this time of year,” says reigning 2012 Doc-O-Lantern champion and St. Joseph’s general surgeon Kevin Potter, MD. “As surgeons, we know the importance of safety and of being prepared. We don’t want anyone to have a gory Halloween.”

Jack O'lantern carving tips include:

-Cut the Other Way: Don’t carve towards yourself. Slice the other way in small, controlled strokes.

-Smarter, Not Sharper: A sharp knife can become lodged in the thicker parts of the pumpkin and cause serious injury if your hand is in the wrong place when it dislodges.

-Go Shopping: Local stores sell special carving kits that include small serrated saws which are less likely to get stuck in the pumpkin and are not sharp enough to cause a deep injury.

-Location. Location. Location: Set up your carving station in a clean, dry and well-lit area. Wash and thoroughly dry the cutting area, your hands and all tools that you will use to carve your pumpkin. Moisture can cause slipping which can lead to injuries.

-No Kid Carving: Little hands and sharp tools do not mix. Children can draw the design on the pumpkin and clean out the inside, but an adult should do the actual carving.

-Big People Needed: It only takes a second for an injury to occur, so supervise closely. Do not leave children or adolescents alone with carving tools.

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