What would you do if you lost an arm, a finger, a tongue or a limb? What if a crocodile bit your arm off while you were working at a zoo? Best to know the facts so you can act if such a thing ever happened to you or someone around you.
A young man who works in the family shop up the road from me at Elstree, Hertfordshire in the UK is missing his left arm. Apparently, he lost it in a car accident in Syria before he migrated to England. Shocking—but he copes. I'll bet he wishes he'd received proper medical treatment at the time.
His limb was reattached in a complex series of operations. Doctors said an accident as serious as that would mean the loss of his arm for good, but they hope he will get feeling back in his fingers.
Because of his youth, his nerves might re-grow. Thousands of dollars have poured in to a web page set up to help his family with the medical costs of further treatment. http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/brett-bouchard-recovery-fund/170822
This is how the surgery happens: Once the injured patient arrives at the hospital, there's a complex series of steps they take to ensure the severed limb can survive once it's reattached. First they'll reattach the bone, using pins or wire to hold it together. Then specialists will restart blood flow by suturing the arteries and blood vessels. Next, surgeons begin to reconnect tendons, muscle tissue and nerves, although nerve reattachment can be saved for a later date. Finally, using grafts from other parts of the patient's body if necessary, the skin is stitched back together.
As many as four days after amputation, refrigerated limbs can be reattached, but ideally surgery occurs within a day. A lopped-off finger will still have a place on your hand for about 12 hours after amputation without refrigeration, but a full limb like an arm or leg at room temperature must be reattached within six to 12 hours, due to rapid death of muscle tissue.
His uncle found the tongue, picked it up from the dirt and rushed him to hospital. He spent a long time at the infirmary, where he grew to love ice-cream, about the only thing he could eat. He carries the desire for something sweet and cold to this day.
As an aside, he got to know many prisoners-of-war at the hospital earlier in 1944 during a time when he nearly died with infected tonsils. Italian men walked in their compound on the other side of the fence in Edgeware, outer London. They passed him chocolate from their rations. He found them to be caring men, who kept him entertained with stories in their halting English.
Now you know how to act if a limb is severed, you're ready to face any eventuality.