Weird Medicine

Doctors Swap Man’s Lost Thumb For Big Toe In Bizarre Surgery

thumbs up
In the US, this is a sign of approval. Meanwhile, it is seen as an ‘up yours’ in Latin America, West Africa, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Pexels

In an unfortunate accident, a cobbler lost his thumb while trimming the heel of a shoe. Thankfully, surgeons were able to save his life (and profession) by replacing it with one of his big toes.

Missing Digit

On January 9, 2019, a mere six weeks after moving his cobbling business to a new spot, master cobbler David Lee unfortunately had an accident that led to him losing his thumb.

“Straight away, I knew how bad it was, and I just worried that I wouldn't be able to fix shoes again. I cried my eyes out when I thought about it, as I thought I was going to lose my shop,” Lee said in a statement that was released.

However, he was then referred to Royal Derby Hospital, located in Derby, England, where he learned that hope is not all lost yet since he can still have his thumb replaced, provided he’s willing to give up one of his big toes for it and undergo a rare procedure called “toe-to-thumb reconstruction.” Sounds about right.

"There are lots of different ways to reconstruct thumbs, but using the big toe gives the best functional and cosmetic benefits, as it is the thing most like a thumb on the body ,” Jill Arrowsmith, one of the hand surgeons who performed Lee's operation, said in a statement. Usually, the procedure is only offered to those who lost most of their thumb, especially if the damage is down to the knuckle.

"As soon as it was put to me that attaching my toe gave me a chance to carry on my job, I instantly said let's do it," Lee recalled.

Toe Replacement

Per a report released in 2010 in the Journal of Hand and Microsurgery, toe fingers actually serve as near perfect substitutes for hand fingers because they share the same structure and range of motion. They also have the same sensitive skin and nails for pinching. And when patients lose a thumb and get it replaced with a toe, they actually get not just adequate but optimal function.

Lee underwent the procedure five days after his accident and the operation took 10 hours.

"Now, a year on, I'm back in the shop and doing what I love again," Lee added.

thumbs up In the US, this is a sign of approval. Meanwhile, it is seen as an ‘up yours’ in Latin America, West Africa, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Pexels

Loading...
Join the Discussion