Man who severed thumb has big toe attached in its place

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Media captionJames Byrne: "I just feel really really lucky"

A man from Bristol who accidentally cut off his thumb has had his big toe attached in its place.

James Byrne, 29, from Fishponds severed the thumb on his left hand last December while sawing through wood.

After an attempt to re-attach his damaged thumb failed, plastic surgeons at Frenchay Hospital transplanted his left big toe to his hand.

Surgeon Umraz Khan said the gain outweighed the loss as losing a toe "is not as disabling as losing a thumb."

Mr Byrne said: "Mr Khan re-attached my thumb but it had been badly damaged and although we tried everything, including leeches, to get the blood flowing again it didn't take.

"Mr Khan said to me 'You will have a thumb even if I have to take your toe'. I thought he was joking, but he was serious and nine months later here it is. The aesthetics of it don't bother me,

"I am just happy that it works, my work as a paver would have been destroyed without the use of my hand because I couldn't pick up a brick without a thumb but now I hope I can be back at work in a few months."


Mr Byrne will now have physiotherapy to help him to adapt to using his new thumb.

Bristol's Frenchay Hospital is a regional micro-surgery centre and is renowned in helping patients requiring this type of surgery.

Mr Khan said: "James will have to learn to re-balance, without his left great toe, on to the ball of the foot but he will be able to walk and jog normally.

"The thumb is the dominant digit. Without it, James would not be able to do the things that we take for granted, like holding a pen or opening a door

"It is still early days for him and he might need additional surgery to make it look more like a thumb."

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