A Chinese factory worker who lost his right hand in an accident had it successfully reattached after doctors saved the limb by grafting it to his ankle.
Xiao Wei of Changde in China's Hunan province lost his right hand, cut at the wrist, in a machine accident last month. Surgeons at Changsha Hospital could not reattach it until they finished fixing the rest of his arm.
“His injury was severe,” his doctor told Rex Features. "Besides ripping injuries, his arm was also flattened. We had to clear and treat his injuries before taking on the hand reattachment surgery."
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The hand was kept intact by stitching it to his left ankle, which lent it some of its blood supply from its arteries. A month later, the hand was successfully reattached. While Wei will still need additional surgeries to restore mobility in the limb, doctors are optimistic he will regain the full function of his hand.
"I was just shocked and frozen at the spot, until co-workers unplugged the machine and retrieved my hand and took me to the hospital," Wei told reporters after the surgery. "I am still young, and I couldn't imagine life without a right hand."
An British doctor with no ties to the case says the man is in good hands.
"The Chinese are pretty experienced in microsurgery," Cairian Healy of the Royal College of Surgeons in England told the BBC. "And the concept of saving a severed part of the body by attaching it to another part of the body to give it a blood supply is well recognized.”
But in Wei’s case, the procedure could be a tricky one. "The ankle is a hard place to graft though. Usually surgeons would go for the armpit because the blood supply is better."
This isn’t the first medical case of its kind from China. In September, surgeons at a hospital in Fuzhou, in the Fujian province, grew a nose on man’s forehead after he was in a traffic accident that damaged his nose.
The 22-year-old man, known as Xiaolian, developed an infection in his nose. Surgeons had no way of recovering the organ except by creating a new one and transplanting it, Reuters reported. They placed a skin tissue expander under the man’s forehead and cut it into the shape of a nose and shaped it with cartilage taken from his ribs.