For James Byrne, 29, who makes a livelihood as a paver and plant operator in the United Kingdom, having a thumb is vital for maintaining ease of every day operations. But he lost this valuable digit in December 2010 while sawing a piece of wood, according to The Telegraph.
Doctors tried to sew on the severed thumb, using leeches to coax blood flow, but the technique didn't work. Plan B? Give his big toe a new purpose as a replacement thumb. Two months after the surgery, Byrne is showing off his new digit, which he proudly nicknamed Toby, saying it is functioning quite well.
Watch Bryne describe his new thumb:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/WLIN4bdJGTI?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
The Telegraph has more on the operation and recovery:
Although removing one of his toes would affect his balance in the short term, Mr. Byrne decided with doctors that the toe would be more useful on his hand because his thumb had been his dominant digit.
Since the surgery at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, in September, he has limited movement in the new digit but is expected to regain full use of it after intense physiotherapy.
He will later have an operation to remove a piece of wire fusing the bones together.
"I never thought it would work but the surgical teams and nurses have done such a fantastic job. The care has been amazing," he said.
"I can't bend it yet but I hope to be able to do so soon. It rotates and I can give it a good wiggle.
The Telegraph reports that the eight-hour operation required two teams of surgeons -- one operating on his foot, the other on his hand. The plastic surgeon described the procedure as complex and rare since connecting bones, nerves, tendons and ligaments were involved. The Daily Mail reports that after Bryne relearns how to balance without his toe, he should be able to run and walk normally.
We recently reported another strange case of replacement hand-parts wherein a Chinese man was regrowing his severed fingertip on his stomach.