Gross out? – You can do it: activities & oddities

Gross out? – You can do it: activities & oddities – banking; grafting dismembered bodyparts

YOU’VE GOT to hand it to medical science. When this patient mangled most of her right hand in an accident, a team of microsurgeons (doctors who use microscopes to operate on tiny body parts) “replanted” her three detached fingers and crafted a thumb from the woman’s toes!

Prior to surgery, doctors kept alive the recovered fingers by temporarily grafting, or attaching, them to an artery inside the patient’s left arm. An artery carries oxygen-rich blood and nutrients from the heart to other body parts, including the grafted fingers.

Although this patient lucked out with the procedure–called banking–she’s one of just a handful of successful cases (another included a dismembered hand banked in a patient’s armpit!). “The problem is that the digits just sit there and don’t circulate blood,” explains Dr. Doug Hanel at the University of Washington. “You can’t wiggle your fingers when they’re dangling from the side of your arm.”

But even though banked body parts can’t move, some parts continue to grow: This patient’s fingernails required regular trimming!

COPYRIGHT 2002 Scholastic, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group