A Turkish surgeon has reattached a finger severed in Malta in a 19-hour operation, which could be a medical first.
Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported that engineer Berk Altınelli was working on a vessel near Malta when his index finger was cut off in an accident in February. The 29-year-old’s severed finger was kept in ice and he was evacuated to a Maltese hospital.
However, Maltese doctors told him there was nothing they could do and said he could “dump” the finger.
Undeterred, Altınelli consulted with his uncle back in Istanbul, a dentist, to see if there was something that could be done. The pair found expert Mehmet Veli Karaaltin, who told him severed limbs must be sewn back within nine hours and that at most, the tissue would die and the finger would be useless.
The engineer decided to take the risk. He acquired a mini-fridge and began a desperate search for a flight to Turkey.
Luckily, he managed and boarded a flight with his mini-fridge in a backpack to Istanbul. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital and a 19-hour surgery put his finger back into place.
The surgery was a success. He is now preparing for physical therapy to be able to use his finger again.
Speaking to Turkish news agency Demirören News Agency (DHA), the surgeon Karaaltın said it appeared impossible at first, but he took the risk.
“I decided to take it for this young man. It was a very difficult process for him, but he was lucky. The finger is more enduring in such cases than other organs as it does not have many muscle tissues, which would be more difficult to repair. But it is still a challenge to get it reattached. I had to shorten the finger a little. It will be shorter than his other fingers but will be functional,” he said.
Turkish surgeons have been praised for their accomplishments, particularly in transplants and surgeries on severed limbs.
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