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Horse Jockey, Paul Halpern, Regrows Bitten-Off Finger With Help Of Powder Made From Pig Bladders [VIDEO]

lost finger
A procedure that uses powder made from pigs' bladders to regrow tissue and bone helped one man regrow his finger after his horse bit it off. C Jill Reed, CC BY-SA 2.0

Besides the initial pain, losing a finger may soon be a lot less distressing and debilitating, if one South Florida doctor has his way. That’s because he used a powder, known in the media as Magic Pixie Dust, to regrow one horse jockey’s digit — both tissue and bone — after it was bitten off by his horse while feeding.

“It’s a certain powder, a dust that you sprinkle on your finger every other day, you wrap it up, and long story short, it grew back — the majority of it,” Paul Halpern, the New Jersey-based horse jockey, who spends some of his time in Florida, told NBC6. “I’m quite happy.”

The procedure is a form of xenotransplantation, more commonly known as cross-species transplantation, during which animal organs or tissue are transplanted into humans, and it's non-surgical and painless. ACell, a producer of the MatriStem powder, says that it is made from tissue of pig bladders because the “protein scaffold” is “nearly identical to that of human tissue.”

Dr. Eugenio Rodriguez, of the Deerfield Beach Outpatient Surgical Center, gave Halpern the powder, telling him to apply it to where he lost part of his finger, along with a protective sheet containing a saline solution. Over the course of two months, the finger slowly grew back.

“I couldn’t notice at the time, but once everything had healed, and the fingernail grew back, which is quite miraculous, and the skin healed over, then you really notice,” Halpern told NBC6.

The powder works by attracting stem cells to the wound site and then promoting growth, Rodriguez said. He’s been using the powder for over three years, and believes he’s the only one in South Florida to use it.

Others across the nation have used it too, however, with similarly “miraculous” results, as one 51-year-old Nebraska patient, who had lost the tip of his thumb in a chainsaw accident, described it. “The best one thousand bucks I ever spent,” he said, according to Burns & Levinson, LLP, who represents ACell. 

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