A man in Texas who suffered third-degree burns to his hand has had it saved in an unusual procedure, wherein surgeons attached it to his belly. The 87-year-old Frank Reyes was changing a tyre on a trailer when a jack slipped, pinning his hand against the fender. This pressed into his hand "like a hot iron" for 30 minutes, leaving the pensioner with severe burns down to the bone.

"The hot metal was so hot, it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon and it stayed there for 20 or 30 minutes in the hot sun," recalled Reyes (speaking on 2 September 2015), who was later treated at the Houston Methodist Hospital. After traditional procedures failed to heal the hand, leading to the amputation of half of his index finger, a novel solution was proposed by local plastic surgeon Dr Anthony Echo. In a procedure that is not unheard of but still extremely rare, Dr Echo sewed the badly burned hand into the tissue of Reyes' abdomen.

sewn hand into belly
While the entirity Reyes's index finger could not be saved, the rest of his hand is expected to make a full recovery Houston Medical Hospital

Dr Echo stated that by implanting the burned hand into the tissue of the abdomen, the hand was able to heal and form a new blood supply. Some of the abdominal tissue and skin was then grafted on to Reyes' hand. "Those two raw surface areas actually stick, and over the course of about three weeks the blood vessels actually connect, allowing us to divide the remaining skin on his abdomen and transferring on to his hand," Dr Echo said.

After three weeks with his hand implanted in his abdomen, Reyes said he can now move his fingers and is looking forward to the bandage coming off permanently in the coming days. "So far I can move it, my new hand, my thumb and the little one. Next Tuesday, they're going to take it off and we'll know from there what to look for," he said..

Doctors now believe that after this unusual procedure, Mr Reyes will recover most movement in his hand.