LAHORE: In what appears to be a rare surgical intervention in Pakistan, the hands of a minor boy, which were severed by a spinning blade machine, have been re-implanted during a 10-hour-long operation.
The complicated and risky surgery was performed at Lahore’s Children’s Hospital by a four-member team of relatively young paediatric plastic surgeons. Led by Dr Aslam Rao, the team consisted of Dr Waseem Humayun, Dr Salman and Dr Farhan Gohar.
The doctors have declared it the first case of re-implantation of hands of a minor patient in Pakistan. They have also claimed it the first one in Asia so far, saying the team did not find a documented case of re-implantation of two hands of an individual in any country of the region.
The five-year-old boy was shifted to Okara District Headquarters Hospital after his hands were chopped off in a spinning blade machine at his home.
Children’s Hospital team claims no such documented case exists prior to their intervention
Doctors at DHQ Hospital immediately referred him to Children’s Hospital, Lahore. He was shifted by a Rescue 1122 ambulance to the hospital accordingly with his hands preserved in an ice jar.
The surgeons in Lahore lauded the timely decision of the DHQ Hospital, saying that in such cases the chances of a successful operation increased manifold when a patient reached within six hours of the incident along with the preserved hands.
Dr Rao told Dawn that he, along with his [young] team, have developed the specialty (plastic surgery) at the hospital. He said he and his team managed to save a boy’s hands by grafting them on his arms after a complicated surgery.
Dr Rao said the boy had lost his hands a month back.
“There were too many risks in re-implanting the hands directly to the arms as the tissues of the severed part of the body were damaged badly,” he said.
The boy was shifted to the hospital at night [around 10pm] when he and his team members were at homes after completing their shifts.
“I got an emergency call from one of my junior colleagues who said that a minor boy has arrived from Okara with his two severed hands,” Dr Rao said.
He said he immediately alerted the surgeons who were to perform the procedure. “We started the procedure at around 10pm and ended the next day at 9am,” he said, adding that it was a challenging surgical intervention that took the entire night.
He said his team made all-out efforts to connect most of the major and invisible blood vessels to keep the tissues alive and ensure blood supply back to the [detached] hands.
The operation had been carried out a month ago but the patient was kept under observation to ensure that it was done successfully, he said. “We feel proud to announce that the test reports have declared the operation successful and we have discharged the patient today (Thursday),” Dr Aslam Rao said.
He said the next phase of rehabilitation has started and the hands would start functioning completely after six to nine months.
Dr Rao said he and his team have successfully re-implanted hands of 50 children at his hospital during the last few years.
Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022