A shoemaker, who lost his thumb in a strange accident, has his lost finger replaced with his own big toe.
David Lee was trimming the heel of a shoe in his shoemakers in Nottinghamshire in January last year when his hand was caught in the machine.
To his horror, he saw his right thumb cut to the ground in front of him.
Getting calm, David called an ambulance and even went out to smoke a cigarette while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
After initially fearing that he would lose his business, David returns to work less than a year after doctors performed surgery to remove the big toe and replace the lost thumb.
The 40-year-old said: “As soon as I was told that joining my toe gave me the opportunity to continue my work, I instantly said” let’s do it. “
“I thought I would never do my job again and that I would lose my business. It was obvious to go this route.
“As a right-handed person, I wouldn’t have been able to do much work.”
Speaking of the moment when his thumb was cut, David said he felt no pain, but “everything happened so fast.”
“I didn’t see myself initially because I compressed it with my jersey,” he said. “I calmly turned off the machines in the workshop.
“Immediately, I knew how bad it was and I worried that I couldn’t fix my shoes again.”
He was rushed to King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield, before being transferred to the Pulvertaft Hand Center, at the Royal Derby Hospital, where doctors told him his plan to save his hand.
Now that David has his big toe in the place where his thumb used to be, he says he is getting used to the sensation.
“It feels heavy to have a toe where the thumb should be,” he said.
“Doing physio and strength work in my hand has made me feel more like a normal thumb. I hope to feel more in him.”
Despite his terrible experience, David has used the machine in his shoemakers in Sutton-in-Ashfield that caused his devastating injury.
He said: “I was a little anxious to approach the machine, but fixing the band on the machine again reassured me.
“The problem was my foot, it didn’t really heal properly. I was walking too much and I didn’t sit up with him. I was so anxious to return to the store.”
The surgery had been performed only a few times in the Derby hospital and is only considered for patients with certain types of amputations.
Jill Arrowsmith, one of the two consulting hand surgeons who performed the operation, said: “This procedure is only offered to patients who have lost a lot of thumb, usually near the knuckle.
“Not having any of the thumbs can be very disabling, especially for those who do manual labor.
“This type of injury could mean that these patients cannot remain at work, so we are delighted to be able to offer this treatment option.”
“The reconstructions of feet to thumb are quite rare, but we are very satisfied with all the results that these patients have achieved.
“There are many different ways to rebuild the thumbs, but using the big toe provides the best functional and cosmetic benefits, since it is the closest thing to a thumb on the body.
“David has worked very hard to recover after his injury and has done incredibly well.
“He is the first shoemaker teacher I’ve ever met, so it’s nice to know that he has done what he likes to do again.”
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