Chinese doctor saves man’s severed hand, attaches it to leg

china hand
This picture taken on December 4, 2013 shows Xie Wei’s hand grafted to his ankle in a hospital in Changsha, central China’s Hunan province. Chinese doctors have saved his severed hand by grafting it to his ankle, local media reported. Xie Wei lost his right hand in an accident at work but could not have it reattached to his arm right away. Doctors kept the hand alive by stitching it to his left ankle and “borrowing” a blood supply from arteries in the leg. Later they managed to replant the hand back on his arm.
Credit: STR/AFP/Getty

A doctor saved a man’s severed hand by attaching it to its leg in Hunan Province, China, in November, reports CNN. Factory worker Xie Wei accidentally cut off his hand while using a machine and kept it in a plastic bag, and then a cooler with ice as he tried to find a doctor who could help.

Xie initially went to local hospitals, who told them they were unequipped to save his hand, but he eventually found a hospital two hours away where doctors said they could try to do something. Seven hours after Xie had his hand cut off, Dr. Tang Juyu, a specialist in difficult tissue and wound repair cases, told him he was optimistic about the severed hand, and took Xie into the operating room.

Tang decided that the best way to heal Xie’s hand was to graft it to his calf, where there was an optimal blood supply. The hand stayed on Xie’s leg until his arm fully healed 35 days later, after which doctors moved the hand back to his arm, according to the Telegraph. Xie told reporters, “I just thought it was miraculous. I would never have thought that my hand could be saved.”

Xie’s hand is still not functional, and he said it still feels numb. The hospital said he will need extensive rehabilitation before the hand functions better than a prosthetic one.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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