Man has rare surgery to save his hand after machine accident

"Carlos, I have performed a rare procedure, we put your hand between the skin on the top of your abdomen and the flesh underneath. We have sewn it in, your hand will be there for 42 days. " These were the first words Carlos Mariotti, a 42-year-old from Orleans, Brazil, heard after waking up from an anesthetic. Only a few hours before, he had lived through what he describes as "a horror film."

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At first the day began like any other. He went to work as usual at Zettapack Plastic, the factory where he had been employed for many years. But that day, as he worked, something went horribly wrong.

As if in slow motion, the industrial machine he was operating began to swallow his hand! "It was like watching a movie play out in front of me. I saw the machine pulling my hand in and couldn't do anything about it," says Carlos. He shouted for help several times, but he was alone. Only after a few attempts did anyone come to help him, and somehow they managed to free his trapped hand.

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What was left was a bloody mess: he had lost the skin from his entire hand and badly damaged two of his fingers. Almost unconscious because of the pain, he barely felt it as his coworkers wrapped a bandage around the mutilated hand and took him to the emergency room.

The surgeon who treated his injury decided he had two options: the first was the most logical, easy and common in these circumstances – to completely amputate the hand. Carlos had already lost his index and middle fingers, and it seemed impossible that he would regenerate all that lost tissue, not to mention the bones and tendons. But after further thought, the surgeon hit on a second option, much more outlandish than the first.

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The doctor decided to carry out a very rare procedure that has only ever been been attempted a few times. It involves inserting the injured limb under the skin of the body. This operation allows the skin of the damaged area to regenerate more easily and safely. In the words of the doctor, "This was a very large and delicate injury and the only place we could fit the whole hand was in the abdomen. Without this procedure, there would be a high risk of infection and the tissue and tendons would rot away." 

Carlos had to keep his hand in this special "pocket" in his torso for 42 days, trying at all costs to avoid moving his arm or trying to pull his hand out. In spite of the inconvenience, he was deeply grateful for the procedure because it meant he was not going to lose his hand: "I am just so grateful because at least I will still be able to hold a fork, grip a steering wheel and dress myself without any help," he said.

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While he will never regain complete mobility in his hand, he can still use it to pick up objects and make basic movements. At the moment it looks like a boxing glove, since his fingers are held together under the skin, but in future operations, the doctors hope to be able to separate them out so the hand is more functional and looks more like it used to.

To see how this incredible surgical feat was performed, you can watch the video below:

If the next surgeries go as expected, Carlos will have a quality of life close to what he had before, all thanks to a doctor who decided to try something difficult rather than just pick the easy option. Although this procedure is rare, it has been shown to give excellent results and to be a valid method for treating serious, exposed wounds. We hope that his recovery will continue to go well and that Carlos will be able to return to normal as soon as possible.



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