Medical Miracles

How a toe-to-thumb transplant changed a man's life

A horrific accident sliced off a large part of a Cape Town man’s right hand, leaving him with only one finger. He was filled with despair, until a remarkable surgeon gave him new hope. It all happened in a split second. The press should have been turned off but wasn’t – and in that instant Jermayne’s hand was caught and crushed by the powerful machine. His co-worker pressed the emergency stop switch, but it was too late to save Jermayne’s hand.

Jermayne lost all his fingers on his right hand except his index finger. Dr. Nick Kairinos met him at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital and thought he would be a good candidate for a toe-to-thumb transplant, a procedure seldom done in South Africa. During the intricate 16 hour operation the surgeon amputated of Jermayne’s toes and then connected it to the site where his thumb used to be. This has provided Jermayne with the much-needed pincer movement – the ability to pinch with his remaining index finger and new thumb.

This complex surgery has given Jermayne new hope for returning to work and being able to do things for his little boy.

Click below to Barbara Friedman unpack the story...

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