Thumbs up to Lister Hospital team who reattached teen’s severed digit

Owen Powell with his mum Rachel and sister Christina

Owen Powell with his mum Rachel and sister Christina - Credit: Archant

The family of a teenager who ripped his thumb completely from his hand when he was climbing over a fence have thanked the “wonderful” team who reconnected the digit and restored the use of his hand.

Owen Powell, 15, severed the thumb from his right hand when he slipped climbing the fence.

He was taken to Lister Hospital in Stevenage for specialist surgery, while his mother Rachel went to find the thumb, which had been left behind in a field, and took it to the hospital.

A team including a plastic surgeon, worked through the night to reattach Owen’s thumb.

The bones, blood supply, nerves, tendons and skin were reconnected to restore the use of his hand. The bones were held together with stainless steel pins, while specialist microsurgery was needed to repair the tiny blood vessels to keep the thumb alive.

During his week’s stay at Lister, Owen’s thumb had to be checked regularly to ensure the blood was still flowing. When it was discovered blood wasn’t getting through, Owen was taken back to theatre to get it flowing again.

Since the accident in May, Owen has undergone intensive physiotherapy. Most of the strength has now returned to his hand, which looks almost as good as new.

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His surgeon, Animesh J Patel, said: “A completely amputated thumb is a very uncommon injury. Owen has been really brave, and the support of his family has made a tremendous difference to his recovery.

“Although the initial surgery and stay in hospital were crucial to his recovery, he has put in a lot of time and effort with physiotherapy afterwards and this required a lot of self-determination.

“We’re very pleased with his progress and wish him well for the future.”

Consultant plastic surgeon Stephanos Papanastasiou added: “Owen didn’t complain about the frequent inspections of his hand, day or night. He was a very obliging patient, which will have helped his recovery.”

Owen’s mum, Rachel, said: “We just want to thank everyone who helped to look after him. Everyone – from the play specialists, ward assistants and nurses to the top surgeons – has just been wonderful. We always knew what was going on, and really can’t thank them enough.”

Owen, who lives in Luton, said: “I’m just glad I’ve still got my thumb. There’s no more climbing over fences for me.”

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