Australian tradesman Frank Barreda, 47, thought he would never use his hand again after his fingers were crushed in a workplace accident.
Barreda lost four fingers and the thumb on his right hand but is now undergoing intricate surgeries to have his hand rebuilt by surgeons at Sydney Hospital.
Barreda had never imagined the possibility that surgeons could take the big toe from his foot and attach it to his hand to function as a thumb. As it turns out, reattaching the toe was not the difficult part.
Hand Surgeon Dr. Sean Nicklin at Sydney Hospital said of the procedure, “Because of his injury, it actually took a lot of surgery to get his hand prepared.”
It took Barreda two weeks to recover from the preparation surgeries, which included a skin graft, Barreda says in a Seven News video report.
Afterward, he went under a seven-hour procedure where all the small bones, nerves and blood vessels were delicately transferred from his foot to his hand to make the thumb, reported Yahoo Australia.
“It was, how do I put it … confronting to say we’re going to take your toe and put it for a thumb,” Barreda told Seven News. Nevertheless, Barreda was determined to have his hand rebuilt.
Nicklin said the procedure is more common than most would think. The surgery is performed about once every year at Sydney Hospital, he added.
Though Barreda now has a functioning thumb, he’s is still expecting more procedures, reports Metro.
“His thumb is working well but it’s got nothing to pinch against, so we want to create some fingers,” Nicklin explained. The next surgery will transplant his toes from his other foot to replace the fingers that are still missing.
The second transplant is expected to be more complicated than the first.
“I wouldn’t say I recommend it,” Barreda laughed. “But if you need it done, I would,” he said of the surgery’s results in the video report. He later gave the camera a "thumbs up."