Doctors in China have saved a man’s hand by stitching it to his ankle, according to the BBC.
Xiao Wei lost his right hand in an accident at work and his injuries were so severe, doctors were not able to reattach the hand to his arm right away.
Instead, they opted to graft the hand to Wei’s left ankle and let it survive by using the blood supply from arteries in the leg.
Doctors say Wei’s arm was also flattened and they had to clean and treat his injuries before performing the reattachment surgery.
A month after the accident, doctors deemed Wei was well enough for surgery and reattached the hand to his arm.
Doctors say Wei will need to undergo more surgeries, but are hopeful he will regain full function of his hand.
Stitching hands to other parts of the body to keep them alive are not uncommon, Cairian Healy, of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, told the BBC. It can take a skilled surgeon eight to 15 hours to reattach hand, he said.
“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 blood supply is well recognized.”
Healy said the ankle is hard to graft and “usually surgeons would go for the armpit because the blood supply is better.”
Although reattachments are possible, not all are successful. Some patients do not like the results and choose to have it amputated it after due to side effects such as pain and stiffness.
But Wei is willing to take those chances.
“I am still young, and I couldn’t imagine life without a right hand,” he said, according to the Huffington Post.
Sources: Huffington Post, BBC