February 2018 Standardmedia; Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) have successfully reattached the severed hand of 17-year-old Joseph Thairu from Kiambaa, Kiambu County.
Thairu’s arm was accidentally cut off while cleaning a chaff cutter. He had just finished feeding their cows.
The highly delicate procedure lasted seven hours. It involved a multidisciplinary medical team made of surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses.
According to Ferdinand Nangole who was part of the surgery team, the procedure involved cleaning the wound, identifying structures such as nerves and shortening the bones.
Thairu was taken to KNH more than 10 hours after the accident happened. It took doctors one and a half hours to identify the structures in his arm.
NHIF will help out with a good chunk of the costs since a typical operation would cost an average of Sh1.2 million in the KNH private wing.
Doctors suggest that a severed body part should be sealed in a plastic bag and placed on ice. Direct contact with the ice can cause frostbite and damage the tissue, and suspending severed body parts in water has been shown to make reattachment more difficult.
The first step in reattaching a body part is to restore blood flow by reconnecting the arteries. For the procedure to work, the severed tissue must be alive, and the severed arteries must be large enough to manipulate using microsurgical techniques. The total cost of the surgery is estimated at Sh 1.2 million. A percent of the bill will be paid through the National Hospital Insurance Fund medical cover.
In 2013, doctors in China had to keep the hand of a man alive for a month by attaching it to his leg before they could reattach it to its normal position again. Zhou’s hand was cut off by a drilling machine at his workplace.
After the accident, doctors were unable to reattach the hand immediately because the damage was too severe. The surgeons grafted the hand onto Zhou’s lower leg just above his Achilles tendon and connected it to blood vessels in the region so it could stay alive while the healing process began.
In November 2016, surgeons at KNH successfully separated conjoined twins in a 23-hour operation. The girls, named Blessing and Favour, were born in September 2014. The surgery took two years of meticulous planning due to the complex nature of the areas shared by the twins. The girls were joined at the lower back.