Thanks to a team of doctors, 18-year-old Sukhvinder Singh now has three toes for fingers in his right hand.
The Punjab resident lost all fingers and the thumb after his right hand got caught in a thresher last year. On March 15, surgeons at Max Super-Speciality Hospital in Saket used two toes from his left foot and one from his right to replace the lost thumb and two fingers.
"Two fingers and a thumb are enough to perform basic chores, such as holding things. Transplanting toes was the only option," said Dr Sunil Choudhary, director, Max Institute of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, who led the three-member surgical team of Dr Raghav Mantri and Dr Prateek Arora.
Singh, a Class 10 student in village Gonhewal, 50km from Amritsar in Punjab, was cutting fodder when his hand went into the threshing machine. He was taken to the government hospital in Amritsar, where surgeons used a skin graft from his thigh to close the wound.
The reconstructive surgery, which was funded by Max India Foundation, was done using a microscope that enlarged the blood vessels 10 times. "The vessels in the toes are very small and a suture thread half the size of a human hair is needed to join the vessels, nerves and tendons," said Dr Choudhary.
In all, eight vessels and six nerves were stitched - with 10 stitches in each of them.
Triple toe transfer is extremely rare as more vessels are involved. "A wrong stitch can result in clotting or leakage, so we have to be very careful," said Dr Choudhary. Two six-cm-long vein grafts were taken from Singh's legs to bridge the gap between the artery and the toes to restore blood supply.
With the help of regular physiotherapy sessions, Singh has already got movement in his thumb. "It should take him eight months to get full movement back. He should heal within a week and with physiotherapy, should be able to write too," said Dr Choudhary.
"Once the movement is back, I can even write my Class 10 exams," smiles Singh.