In this sentence the word "trying" is a participle and "trying to save the child" is a participial phrase. This participial phrase is a modifier, but in my view, one could make the case that it is an adjective (modifying "he") or an adverb (modifying "sacrificed"). In most cases, adjectival participial phrases are properly positioned directly next to the nouns they mofify. This practice reduces confusion. However, there is no confusion in this sentence even if the phrase is adjectival. Your rephrasing is also correct.Originally Posted by jiang
If one makes "trying" the object of a preposition, "trying" then becomes a gerund, functioning as a noun.