What do you do when someone manages to cut off his thumb? Just chop off his big toe and sew in onto his hand!
That’s exactly what happened to 29 year old James Byrne from Bristol after he severed the thumb on his left hand while sawing through a piece of wood.
Attempts to save Byrne’s thumb failed and so plastic surgeon Umraz Khan came up with the novel solution. After discussion, it was agreed that the loss of a big toe would be less problematic than being without a thumb and so the operation went ahead.
Frenchay hospital in Bristol is a regional micro-surgery centre and has an international reputation for patients needing this sort of complex surgery. Khan led two teams of surgeons and anaesthetists: one working on Byrne’s toe while the other worked on his hand at the same time.
Khan said: “It is quite a rare thing to do and is a very complex micro-surgical procedure which involves re-attaching the bone, nerves, arteries, tendons, ligaments and skin of the toe to the hand.”
And what does Mr Byrne think of it all? Well, he is delighted.
“The aesthetics of it don’t bother me. I am just happy that it works. My work as a paver would have been destroyed without the use of my hand because I couldn’t pick up a brick without a thumb but now I hope I can be back at work in a few months,” he said.
Thumbs up then!