Thanks to a creative surgeon, a Brazilian factory worker will get to keep his hand after suffering a terrible work accident that ripped nearly all of the skin off his left appendage.
Instead of amputating the limb, The Independent reports that surgeons at Santa Otilia hospital in southern Brazil sewed 42-year-old Carlos Mariotti’s hand into his stomach, and covered it with a flap of protective skin. There it will stay for about six weeks until it develops new tissue and tendons that can receive a skin graft.
Mariotti served as a machine production operator at the Zettapack Plastic factory, close to his home in Orleans in southern Brazil. While operating a machine that makes coils, his hand was dragged into the machine. The de-gloving injury exposed Mariotti’s bones and tendons; doctors feared that the hand would become infected, and that the tissue and tendons would rot away. The flesh needed to heal—and the only place in the body doctors could fit Mariotti’s whole hand, they say, was his belly.
Luckily, the unconventional surgery was a success. ‘When I woke up from the operation I didn’t know whether it was still there,” Mariotti told The Independent. “I couldn’t believe it when they said they had tucked my hand inside me.”
Mariotti is still recovering at Santa Otília Hospital. To keep his hand from becoming stiff, he has been instructed to move it gently around inside his abdomen. “It’s a really weird feeling trying to wiggle my fingers inside my body and creepy seeing my tummy protrude slightly as I prod around,” Mariotti said.
Mariotti lost his index and middle fingers in the accident, and doctors say he’ll never regain full movement of his left hand, Inside Edition reports. Still, Mariotti is grateful that surgeons were able to preserve the limb, so he can hold utensils, drive, and dress himself without any help.
While Mariotti’s operation sounds bizarre, it’s been successfully performed before. In 2015, surgeons in China grafted a man’s hand to his lower right calf after it was amputated in a factory accident. After its tendons and nerves healed, they reattached it to his arm.
[h/t The Independent]