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Aaron Hern, 11, of Martinez, was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Family photo via KGO7)
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MARTINEZ -- Aaron Hern, the 11-year-old Martinez boy injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, had a successful surgery Wednesday afternoon and was beginning to talk with family after having his breathing tube removed, according to a friend who is with the family in Massachusetts.

The bombs exploded Monday as Aaron and a group of family and friends waited near the finish line to cheer on Aaron's mother, Katherine, as she finished the race. Aaron was with his father, Alan, his sister, Abby, 10, and family friends Sandra and Frank Hall.

Sandra Hall said Wednesday that shortly after 6 p.m. in Boston, Aaron was out of his second surgery and doing well. He had his first surgery Monday after the blast, but doctors decided to wait until Wednesday to reassess his injury and attempt to fully repair the damage.

The breathing tube was removed a few hours after the surgery and his mother said in an online update that he may not sleep well because he is much more alert and is already having to deal with memories of the blast.

"There's a long way to go there," Katherine wrote late Wednesday.

While Aaron is no longer on a breathing tube, doctors will monitor him for infections, Katherine said; they are concerned about proper blood flow in repaired muscle tissue.

The lingering fever that had family worried had decreased enough for doctors to go through with the surgery and had greatly reduced by the time the surgery was completed, Hall added.

"His whole leg was hit and the doctors said that the fever was probably caused by all these small abrasions from the tiny shards of shrapnel," Hall said.


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Doctors were also successful in completely closing his wound; as a result, Aaron will not need skin grafts to heal.

Aaron remains in intensive care at Children's Hospital in Boston, but Hall said doctors are looking to remove his breathing tube as early as Wednesday night.

Aaron was wounded Monday when the blasts near the finish line of the race sent shrapnel into his left leg. The shrapnel caused three wounds in his upper left thigh, including one that "is an open wound about the size of an open hand," Hall said.

Specialists were monitoring the situation, Katherine Hern said in her latest update on Facebook at noon Wednesday, and that Aaron is trying to communicate through a touch pad. His hair and eyebrows also were singed during the explosions, Hall said.

It's unknown yet if Aaron and his family will be back in California in time to celebrate his 12th birthday on May 1.

Family members have been overwhelmed by support from the community, Hall said. Children's Hospital in Boston put up Aaron's family in an apartment, and prayers and well-wishes have been received from people near and far, Hall said.

On Tuesday, a Martinez restaurant, Roxx on Main, hosted a fundraiser that raised $4,500, Hall said. The restaurant, located at 627 Main St., donated its tips and proceeds to the Herns and said it will continue to do so every Tuesday until the Herns return home.

"I feel we must unite to support Martinez first," proprietor Roxanne Cole wrote on the flier announcing the fundraiser. " ... Don't worry, good will overcome evil in the end. Amen."

Mountain Mike's Pizza on 1160 Arnold Drive in Martinez also announced that 30 percent of the money from purchases made Wednesday through Sunday will go to the Herns. Two Kinder's restaurants in Walnut Creek and one each in Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Brentwood and Hercules will donate 15 percent of money from purchases Sunday through April 24th to the Herns, as well.

Several Contra Costa businesses have already organized fundraisers to offer support and help the family pay medical and travel costs.

"The family can't believe the outpouring of love," Hall said. "Every call they receive, every email they read, every text has been an outpouring of good wishes and love for their son."

Aaron is a student at Martinez Junior High, where he excels athletically and academically, administrators said. Principal Helen Rossi said Tuesday that the eighth grade is collecting donations for travel expenses and that some classes are making cards to send to the family.

"It was one act of evil, and since then, the family has been touched by thousands of angels." Hall said. "They can't express their gratitude enough."

Staff writer Erin Ivie contributed to this story. Contact Katie Nelson at knelson@bayareanewsgroup.com. Contact Rick Hurd at rhurd@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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