Dubai worker's severed hand reattached in 10-hour operation

Pyae Phyo Aung, a labourer from Myanmar, was involved in an accident at work

Pyae Phyo Aung surrounded by some of the medical team members who reattached his hand. Photo: NMC Royal Hospital Dubai
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Doctors at a Dubai hospital have successfully reattached the severed hand of a worker after an accident at work.

Pyae Phyo Aung, 37, a labourer from Myanmar, was working on a heavy shipment at Dubai Ports on February 26 when his left hand became caught in ropes used for mooring the boat.

The immense pressure from the ropes severed his hand from his wrist leaving it hanging by a small part of skin.

Dubai Ambulance paramedics immediately took Mr Pyae to the emergency department at NMC Royal Hospital in the emirate where a team of doctors and nurses managed to save his hand.

“The patient and his company managers were informed of the necessity to reattach the hand immediately under general anaesthesia,” said Dr Adil Ali, a plastic and reconstructive surgery specialist at the hospital.

He said the man had lost a significant amount of blood and was in a critical condition when he arrived at the hospital.

After 10 hours of surgery, Pyae Phyo Aung, 37, had his hand successfully reattached. Photo: NMC Royal Hospital

Dr Vikas Verma, a reconstructive surgery consultant who was on the team, said severed bones, arteries, veins and tendons all needed reattaching.

He explained the complex and lengthy process could be performed by surgeons with extensive experience in handling microvascular hand injuries.

“A successful hand replantation is the best method to restore the function and shape of the hand, and no prosthesis can match it,” said Dr Verma.

However, he said it was rare for a procedure such as this one to result in a fully functioning hand.

In an operation that took more than 10 hours, Dr Ali and the plastic and reconstructive surgery team restored blood flow to the amputated hand after reconnecting arteries, veins and tendons.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohammed Selim and the orthopaedic team focused on reconstructing the detached bones.

Dr Surjya Upadhyay, head of anaesthesiology and pain management, said Mr Pyae underwent four additional operations in March.

“The surgeries involved tendon transfers, nerve repair and skin repair to restore hand function and movement,” he said.

After the procedure the patient remained under strict monitoring to prevent complications.

“After a course of physiotherapy and occupational therapy, it is anticipated that Mr Pyae will be able to nearly fully restore hand function,” said Dr Mohammed.

He said the recovery of nerves and bones could take six to 12 months.

“The patient has a long journey ahead to regain complete function and movement of his hand but it's most likely he will be able to return to his work.”

Mr Pyae, who arrived in the UAE 18 months ago for work, expressed his gratitude to the doctors who saved his hand.

“My family and I will forever be grateful to the doctors and nurses at this hospital,” he said.

“I am the sole breadwinner for my family of my mother, wife and three-year-old daughter who are back in Myanmar.

“I haven't seen them since I began working here.”

He was discharged at the end of March, after which he flew back to his homeland.

“The replantation of tissues and limbs is successful if the operation is carried out as quickly as possible, ideally within four hours of the injury, and if the amputated parts were properly preserved,” said Dr Ananth Pai, medical director of the hospital and a specialist in general and laparoscopic surgery.

Despite complete amputation incidents being rare, this was not a first for the hospital that has been operating since 2014.

In 2020 doctors at NMC reattached the hand of a worker who had arrived carrying it in a plastic bag.

“The man was working on a sharp machine at a nearby factory when his hand was severed and fell inside the machine,” said Dr Verma.

The patient had almost full hand function restored after successful surgery, he added.

Updated: May 02, 2023, 1:55 PM