Doctors in China reattach man's severed hand after keeping it alive for over a month

20 July 2015

In a groundbreaking surgery, doctors in China have restored the use of a man's wrist severed in an industrial accident by grafting it onto his ankle for a month before re-attaching it to his hand.

The surgery was performed on a worker named only as Zhou who lost his left hand when it was completely severed by a spinning blade machine at the factory where he worked.

The injuries were so severe that the surgical team, headed by Dr Tang Juyu of Xiangya Hospital, Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in central China, believed time had to be allowed for nerves and tendons to heal.

However, the delay would have led to Zhou losing the use of his hand.

''Under normal temperatures, a severed finger needs to resume blood supply within 10 hours, but that time is even shorter for a separated limb,'' Zhou said, Mailonline reported.

''If a limb is short of blood for too long, its tissues die and it will be unsalvageable.''

The team therefore attached Zhou's hand to his ankle, and kept it alive for more than a month.

Then, in another operation that lasted for over 10 hours, the hand was re-attached to his arm.

The patient is able to move his fingers slightly now, but more rehabilitation would be needed before he regains full use of his hand.

This is the second instance of an operation of the kind following the first in November 2013 when Xiao Wei, whose right hand was severed due to an accident at work.

Doctors at a hospital in Changde, also in the Hunan province, were similarly able to reattach Wei's hand in a successful operation.

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