Surgeon gives update on deputy's hand reattachment

CLAY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - On Wednesday, Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Freeman was listed in good condition at UAB.  It was late Friday night when he was serving an arrest warrant.  During the incident, officials say the man being served, Curtis Watts, began wielding a bush ax...eventually chopping off Freeman's right hand.  He was flown to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where Dr. Jorge de la Torre and a team of plastic surgeons were waiting.  Wednesday, de la Torre spoke to the media about.  While he couldn't talk specifically about Freeman's case, he described how a similar reattachment surgery may go.  A team of three to four surgeons peer through microscopic glasses for sometimes 8 hours...tediously identifying dozens of tendons, nerves and blood vessels to be reconnected with thread so small it's hard to even see with the naked eye.  "The vessels we're sewing together are from one millimeter in diameter to four to five millimeters in diameter," de la Torre said.  "So they're very tiny vessels we're trying to reattach in some cases."

Dr. de la Torre says there are bones to repair and depending on how clean the break is, the job can become even more challenging.   The recuperation time can take weeks.   First the bone heals as it's held in place with pens or screws.  Then the tendons repair themselves.  "And then finally for the nerves to heal, can take months because the nerve has to grow out the entire length from one area of the injury back out to the tips of the finger," said de la Torre.  "Unfortunately, the function they will get depends on so many factors, it's difficult to say.  It's probably not going to be 100-percent, but I think we can get a really functional hand back."
If you ever have the unfortunate situation to lose a limb, doctors say wrap in a damp cloth, then place it inside a plastic bag.  Put that sealed bag in a cooler with ice water and get to a doctor as soon as possible.