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      Police cadet nearly sliced in half in freak accident survives, owes $500,000 in medical bills

      Edith Benitez never imagined she would see her 22-year-old son Ray being wheeled into the emergency room with his intestines and stomach on the outside of his body.

      "There was a big bubble here and then the intestines were here."

      Ray Benitez, a cadet with only two months to go at the Mission Police Academy, had been cleaning blades on a trencher when he got caught by one of them.

      It sliced him from right to left across his upper chest affecting several major organs.

      "His pancreas, his intestines, his liver..."

      Trauma surgeons at McAllen Medical Center worked feverishly to put the young man with his whole life ahead of him back together while his family prayed for a miracle.

      "They said he had a bruise on his heart and if it grew he wouldn't make it."

      But Ray wasn't giving up.

      He made it through the first few weeks and with the help of a technology never used at this hospital before, Ray's body was slowly cinched together to make him whole again.

      "They used this device that has clamps and rubber bands on. They put it on both sides and each day would tighten the bands to close everything up."

      Today, Ray's able to eat and have full conversations with his family.

      He's out of the ICU and a plastic surgeon stitched up his wounds, but his healing has only just begun, plus he and his family already owe half a million dollars in medical expenses for 12 surgeries and a more than 40 day stay in the hospital.

      "It's stressing him out, he cares so much for everyone else and doesn't want us to be burdened by this."

      Family and friends have started their own fundraisers to help cover some of the costs, but it's not nearly enough especially since the bills will continue to rise as his care moves from the hospital to his home.

      "We're just so thankful that he's alive. I don't care if I'm in debt for the rest of my life."

      You can help Ray Benitez by donating at BBVA Compass Bank under his name, or donate at

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