Severed Hand Surgically Attached to an Ankle
After an industrial accident in China, Xiao Wei had his severed hand attached to his ankle to keep it alive while his arm recovered enough for surgeons to reattach it safely. Wei was initially told that there was no hope for his hand by doctors at a local hospital, however after being transferred to a larger hospital in Changsha, 7 hours after the accident itself, he was told that there was a chance if they could keep the hand alive while his arm healed.
Following the surgery Mr Wei said: “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. I am still young, and I couldn’t imagine life without a right hand.”
This complex surgery is not uncommon in China although the armpit is usually the preferred location due to easier access to a blood supply to be routed through the detached limb. The purpose of reattaching the limb to the body is to maintain a steady blood supply through the appendage to prevent the cells from dying and ultimately prevent the hand from every functioning correctly again – by reintroducing blood to the cells they are able to continue slowly growing and replacing old cells as any other body part naturally does when attached.
A month after his severed hand was attached to his lower leg, Mr Xiao had it surgically removed and reattached to his right arm. Doctors say that he should regain full function of the hand after several follow-up surgical procedures, attaching the hand to his blood supply prevented extreme muscle degradation that alternatives, such as freezing the hand, would have caused. The man’s ordeal is not over yet as many patients choose amputation after a successful reattachment of a limb due to stiffness, discomfort, and pain.