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Doctors saved a 20-year-old firefighter’s hand by sewing it into his belly. Years later, he’s back doing his dream job.

June 21, 2023

A firefighter had his hand sewn into his abdomen by surgeons to help it heal after it was crushed in a work accident.

Anthony Seward, 27, from the U.K., was injured while cleaning machinery at the end of a shift in a second job at a textiles company in the U.K. in 2017.

Seward, who was 20 at the time, was airlifted to a hospital where he had the tips of some of his fingers amputated. Surgeons managed to save most of his hand, however, by sewing it into his stomach for 24 days to help it heal.

The surgery — called a pedicled abdominal flap — was used on soldiers in World War Two and those returning from Afghanistan. But it’s a rare procedure nowadays as these types of injuries are uncommon, surgeon James Henderson told Devon Live.

When Seward came around following the operation, he was expecting his fingers to be amputated, he told Insider, but soon realized he couldn’t move his arm, either.

A nurse had to explain that his hand was sewn into his abdomen. He refused to look at the injury.

Living with his hand sewn into his belly was ‘surreal’

While it was “quite surreal,” Seward said it wasn’t painful living with his hand sewn into his abdomen for three weeks.

The mental impact was the primary concern: He suffered from PTSD because of the accident, which wasn’t helped by the intense boredom during this time. He’d gone from being incredibly active to having to lay in a hospital bed all day with nothing to do.

Seward stayed in the hospital for six weeks and even celebrated turning 21 with the nurses who made him a blown-up hospital glove in place of a balloon.

When he was discharged from the hospital, the recovery process continued.

Playing sport with a person with an amputation helped him come to terms with his disability

Initially, he felt weak but he was determined to feel more like his old self. He returned to the gym and eventually joined a physical disability rugby league team.

“We got chances to go and play in Australia. We played against South Sydney Rabbitohs, which is Russell Crowe‘s team,” he said.

Joining the rugby team and befriending someone who had also experienced amputation was good for him psychologically, and helped him come to terms with his disability.

He said people had similar or worse situations than him, which “put things into perspective,” he said.

Doctors told Seward he wouldn’t be a firefighter again

Due to the severity of his injuries, doctors told Seward he wouldn’t be able to be a firefighter again. Still, toward the end of 2022, he decided to try out some of the tests necessary to be part of the force.

He hit the minimum requirements and realized becoming a firefighter again was a possibility, so started practicing the necessary drills and techniques so he could be at a similar standard to his colleagues.

“If I couldn’t do the role the same as anyone else and I wasn’t safe, then I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

He built up his strength and amended his firefighter gloves to accommodate for his disability. On May 19 this year, he passed his final training, enabling him to return to the job he loved.

“It’s a chance to help people, they need it the most. I couldn’t ask for more from a job,” he said.


Source: Insider


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