Xiao Wei recovers in hospital after the amazing surgical procedure.
Surgeons in China have reportedly saved a man’s severed hand by attaching it to his ankle. The amazing surgical procedure was required after Xiao Wei lost his right hand in an industrial accident in November.
“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,” he said.
“I am still young and I couldn’t imagine life without a right hand.”
While doctors at a local hospital in Changde told him they would not be able to save the hand, surgeons at a larger regional facility were more confident.
However, they said the reattachment surgery would only be successful if the rest of his right arm was given time to properly recover from the accident.
This meant keeping the hand ‘alive’ by grafting it to his left ankle and using the blood supply from arteries in his leg.
“His injury was severe. Besides ripping injuries, his arm was also flattened,” his doctors told Rex Features.
“We had to clear and treat his injuries before taking on the hand reattachment surgery.”
Amazingly, the hand was successfully reattached to Mr Xiao’s right arm around a month later and although he will need further surgery doctors are confident he will regain full function of his hand.
Cairian Healy, from the UK’s Royal College of Surgeons, told the BBC that it was a rare but not inconceivable operation.
“The Chinese are pretty experienced in microsurgery,” he said. “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.
“The ankle is a hard place to graft though. Usually surgeons would go for the armpit because the blood supply is better.”