Sur­geon uses toe to re­place lost thumb

Broome Advertiser - - News - Rose Bren­nan

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.

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