Surgeon uses toe to replace lost thumb
A Halls Creek cattle worker whose thumb was chopped off in a tussle with a bull has had his big toe surgically removed and attached to his hand in a remarkable medical feat by a Sydney surgeon.
Bull rider Zac Mitchell, 20, was told the surgery was the best option for returning hand function. The entire thumb was ripped off after a bull kicked his hand and slammed the thumb against a fence on a remote cattle property in April.
Mr Mitchell picked up his thumb, placed it in a towel and his quick-thinking fellow cattle workers stashed the thumb in cool beers in the hope it could be reattached.
He was flown to Perth, where surgeons tried twice to reattach the thumb without success.
At the suggestion of his mother Karen, Mr Mitchell opted to return to Sydney.
He was treated at the Sydney Hospital/Sydney Eye Hospital’s specialist hand unit where Dr Sean Nicklin first suggested they needed to cut off Mr Mitchell’s toe.
Mr Mitchell is expected to have strong function in the new thumb, allowing him to return to his work as a ringer and get back in the saddle as a bull rider.
The surgery was done on June 30 and Mr Mitchell will need rehabilitation for more than 12 months.