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The knife went through his liver, sliced his diaphragm and missed his heart and aorta by a few millimeters — but after a second surgery to control bleeding, 17-year-old Jared Boger appears to be on the mend.
The athletic high school junior, a member of the local ski patrol, was one of the most severely wounded victims from Wednesday's stabbing spree at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pa.
He is listed in critical condition, but his surgeon and family said he is improving.
"Jared's in a lot of pain right now and is uncomfortable but he is bleeding much less," his brother, Carter Boger, said in a text message to NBC News.
Twenty-one students and a security guard were stabbed by a sophomore who ran through the halls attacking people with two steak knives.
Boger was airlifted to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where doctors waiting for him in the trauma bay quickly realized he needed to be rushed to the operating room.
He underwent emergency surgery to stem the bleeding from the wound in his left flank of his abdomen. It was so deep it almost hit his spine, doctors said.
Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana called the first operation "damage control" and said given the severity of the wound, he knew that they might need to go back in later to make sure bleeding was under control.
That happened about 1 a.m. Thursday, and Puyana said Boger "responded well."
"Even though he's still critical, his prognosis is good," Puyana said.
On Twitter, Carter Boger expressed optimism about his brother's recovery.
Puyana said Jared will still need a few more surgeries and he could not predict how long he will be in the hospital.
While the wound was horrific, the surgeon said it was important to recognize that it could have been worse.
"Even though many people were injured and injured severely, this would be a completely different scenario if a firearm was in place," he said.