When Mississippi man Michael Stevens lost his thumb in a workplace accident last October, doctors told the 42-year-old auto mechanic he would likely be disabled for the rest of his life.
But Stevens got a new lease on life this week thanks to surgeons in San Francisco who performed a complete toe-to-thumb replacement surgery, NBC Bay Area reports.
Stevens is now recovering from the operation, which surgeons hope will restore between 60 to 80 percent functionality in his left hand, ABC 7 San Francisco reports. But doctors said the surgery was especially complicated because of the extent of the injuries Stevens sustained.
“Mike’s toe-to-thumb surgery is especially complicated. His thumb was entirely severed; not just the tip, but down to the third interior joint,” Dr. Charles Lee, Chief of Plastic Surgery & Director of Reconstructive Microsurgery at St. Mary's Medical Center, said in a hospital press release. “It’s very rare to replace the entire thumb. We will be reconnecting bone, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, all that will make his toe fully-functional as a thumb.”
Dr. Charles Lee and his team of surgeons agreed to perform the surgery at a drastically reduced cost after being contacted by Stevens' wife, Regina, who explained that there were no microsurgery specialists in the couple's hometown of Pearl, Mississippi, the Bay City News reports.
Regina also explained that his workers' compensation insurance was only initially prepared to cover cosmetic surgery, and not the full reconstructive surgery he would need to continue working as a mechanic. Fortunately, Steven's insurance has since agreed to partially cover the cost of the operation, according to the paper.
Dr. Lee said told the San Francisco Chronicle that, if all goes well, Stevens' initial healing period should be about six weeks, after which he'll start undergoing hand therapy. In six months to a year, he should have most of the expected function of his new thumb.