UAE: Plastic surgeon saves thumb of mechanic chopped off in workplace accident

Kunhikrishnan Chanavalappil underwent immediate surgery lasting about eight hours to reattach his amputated thumb


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 2:23 PM

The thumb of a 47-year-old Indian mechanic that had been amputated in an accident has been saved by a plastic surgeon at a private hospital in Dubai. A mechanic at a printing company in Jebel Ali, Kunhikrishnan Chanavalappil lost his thumb in a grisly accident at his workplace.

An expat in the UAE for the past 22 years, Chanavalappil said it happened in a fraction of a second. "It was 9 in the morning. We were about to start work. I was setting up the machine and saw my thumb getting chopped off and blood gushing out of my hand. I was conscious and stable, but I could not move," he said.

Shocked to see blood gushing out of his hand, Chanavalappil’s co-workers took the thumb, placed it in a container with ice, and rushed him to nearby Aster Hospital at Cedars, Jebel Ali.

The doctors there referred him to Aster Hospital, Qusais, as the injury was grave, and required a plastic surgeon to fix it at the earliest.

He was attended to by Dr Rajkumar Ramachandran, specialist plastic reconstructive and micro-vascular surgeon at the hospital.

After evaluation, the medical team swiftly moved Chanavalappil to the operation theatre, where he underwent immediate surgery lasting about eight hours to reattach his amputated thumb.

According to Dr Ramachandran, Chanavalappil’s was a complex case. "His thumb had gotten completely amputated. In such cases, immediate surgery is the only option. Fortunately, he reached the hospital on time, and we could perform the reconstruction surgery, reattaching the blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and bone using an operating microscope. He [was] discharged after three days of post-operative care in the hospital and will need physiotherapy," said Dr Ramachandran.

The doctors said that any amputated body part must be washed in clean water and wrapped in a clean moist cloth, and kept inside a waterproof plastic cover with ice packs on top of it. The patient should immediately be brought to a medical facility where micro-vascular surgery is available. The ideal time for reattachment is within 6-8 hours. In Chanavalappil’s case, he reached the hospital well before this time frame.

Ten days after the surgery, Chanavalappil was found to be doing well. "We are happy and relieved now. I was going through extreme stress and pain during this period. A thumb is a crucial part of the body and essential for all hand functions. Now, I am relaxed. The wound is healing, and I have started moving my thumb slowly," said Chanavalappil.


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