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Sunday 23 July 2017

Farm worker has toe surgically attached to his hand to replace thumb after bull attack

Although he will need more than 12 months of rehabilitation, cattle worker plans to return to 'riding bulls and rodeoing'

Zac Mitchell had his entire thumb ripped off after a bull kicked his hand into a fence South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Zac Mitchell had his entire thumb ripped off after a bull kicked his hand into a fence South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

Samuel Osborne

Surgeons have surgically attached a man's toe to where his thumb was severed by a bull in an eight-hour long operation.

Zac Mitchell, 20, had his entire thumb ripped off after a bull kicked his hand into a fence while working on a remote farm in Western Australia.

The bull scraped a large patch of skin of Mr Mitchell's hand and ripped out the digit's entire tendon.

His colleagues tried to preserve the thumb by storing it in ice among some cooled beers.

Doctors surgically attached Mr Mitchell's big toe to his hand in place of his thumb (South Eastern Sydney Local Health District)
Doctors surgically attached Mr Mitchell's big toe to his hand in place of his thumb (South Eastern Sydney Local Health District)

After undergoing two unsuccessful operations to reattach his thumb, doctors suggested they could replace it with his big toe.

"The surgeon explained that [a prosthetic thumb] was pretty pointless and useless in a way, so he talked me into getting my toe put on as sort of my last option," Mr Mitchell told Australian broadcaster ABC.

Dr Sean Nicklin, the lead plastic surgeon, told the BBC he was not surprised it took time for Mr Mitchell to accept the operation.

"It is a bit of a crazy idea - they [patients] do not want to be injured in another part of their body," he said.


"[However] even if you have got four good fingers, if you do not have something to pinch against them, your hand has lost a huge amount of its function."

Mr Mitchell has said the operation hasn't impacted his ability to walk.

"A lot of people think their balance and walking is going to be significantly affected which it generally isn't," Dr Nicklin added.

Although he will need more than 12 months of rehabilitation, he plans to return to farm work.

"It is good news. I'll be able to get back to work and riding bulls and rodeoing," Mr Mitchell told ABC.

Independent News Service





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