Devon

Devon worker's crushed hand sewn in abdomen

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Media captionSurgeons saved a worker's hand which had been crushed in an industrial mangle by sewing it inside a "pocket" in his abdomen for three weeks

Surgeons saved a worker's hand which had been crushed in an industrial mangle by sewing it inside a "pocket" in his abdomen for three weeks.

Anthony Seward, 23, got his hand trapped at Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton, Devon, in August 2016.

Exeter magistrates heard that a broken barrier guard had not been replaced.

Heathcoat admitted a health and safety offence and was fined £300,000. The firm told the court the accident was "a complete tragedy".

Warning: This story contains graphic images that some readers may find upsetting.

It also said Mr Seward's injury was "deeply regretted by the company".

More on this story and other Devon news

Barrister Christian DuCann, representing Heathcote, said it was a "complete tragedy" for a young man early in his career.

"This was an avoidable accident," he added.

Surgeon James Henderson said Mr Seward's hand was sewn inside the skin of his abdomen for three weeks.

The procedure at Southmead Hospital and Spire Bristol, called a Pedicled Abdominal Flap, allowed the skin to heal and get a blood supply from the hand.

It was then separated from the abdomen and the skin was folded over to cover the entire hand.

Image caption Mr Seward's fingers could be improved in the future with transplants from his toes

Mr Seward has now had two operations to separate his fingers and is able to move them independently.

"It's now quite rare as we don't see that many injuries that require this treatment," said Mr Henderson.

The "very old-fashioned procedure" which was first described by surgeons in 1900, was used a lot during World War Two to treat injured servicemen.

It has also been used on soldiers coming back from Afghanistan.

Mr Henderson said Mr Seward's fingers could be improved with transplants from his toes "to give him a good fingertip for gripping fine objects".

"Normally there are more sophisticated ways of transplanting tissue but Anthony's injury was so severe it was decided to do it this way," he added.

Image caption Surgeons sewed his hand inside the skin of his abdomen

Mr Seward lost his job as a retained fire fighter as a result of the accident.

Speaking after the case, Mr Seward said: "It's been a long, painful and difficult 12 months.

"I'd like to say thank you to the doctors and nurses paramedics that treated me at Bristol.

"They did a phenomenal job and I don't think they could have done any better."

Mr Seward said he is making a compensation claim against the firm.

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