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War time method was 'only way' to save crash victim's hand


[WARNING graphic images]

As Martin Shaw’s car came to a stop after rolling four times his first feeling was relief that he’d survived.

“What happened after the car stopped is a bit of a blur but I remember seeing my arm and thinking, that’s it, I’ve lost it,” the 35-year-old said.

After arriving at the Leicester Royal Infirmary by ambulance, remarkably with no other injuries, Martin was taken to surgery that night where work started to try and save his hand.

Plastic surgeon, Nakul Patel, said: “Mr Shaw sustained multiple fractures all his fingers and thumb and a large amount of his skin, tendons and muscle had all been torn away.

“The first thing to do was clean the wounds, there was mud, gravel, grass and road surface in all his wounds and that posed a high risk of infection.” 

Martin Shaw
Martin Shaw's hand was saved when a surgeon used a war time method

Mr Patel explained to Martin that to save his hand they needed to cover his wounds with healthy tissue. He opened a patch of skin across his abdomen and attached it to his thumb and hand to enable healthy skin to cover his fractures and exposed wounds.

“I couldn’t really take it in as what they planned to do was explained to me, but I was willing to try anything to save my hand and arm,” dad-of-four Martin said.

Mr Patel said: “It’s actually a very old technique, one used in war time, with the scale of Mr Shaw’s injuries we needed to do this to have any chance of saving his hand.”

Martin’s hand will be stitched to his chest for around four weeks, before a further operation to release it and close up his abdomen.  Progress so far is good.

“It’s a very strange feeling,” Martin who has been in hospital since his accident on September 9, said. “I do keep forgetting and going to reach for things or try and move it but I’m amazed at what they’ve been able to do.

“I can’t thank Mr Patel and all of the staff here enough. Nothing has been too much trouble for anyone, the care I’ve had - I’ve been blown away.

“There aren’t enough words.”

Mr Patel said: “People think that plastic surgery is purely cosmetic, this is a case that shows otherwise.

“Care like this is a huge team effort by surgeons, registrars, doctors, specialist nurses, health care assistants, domestics, physios, orthopaedics, chaplaincy, microbiology, the burns and plastics team, occupational therapists, psychiatrists - the list goes on.

“His case really goes to show the high standard of care on offer to patients every day and the excellent specialist care of the Kinmonth Ward staff.”

Reflecting on his journey so far, Martin added: “It’s unbelievable that I’ve come out of this and will still have my hand – my kids couldn’t believe it when they saw it, they said it looked like something from the Halloween aisle, they’ve nicknamed me Frankenstein.

“I’m just looking forward to having my arm free so I can have a big yawn and stretch in the mornings.”

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Watch Martin's story here [WARNING graphic content]

Communications Team