From tragedy to triumph: Wayne Health surgeons reattach Michigan man's hand

From tragedy to triumph: Wayne Health surgeons reattach Michigan man’s hand

Kyle Smith after his hand was successfully reattached by surgeon Ahmed Hashem, MD

Life took a detour for 19-year-old Kyle Smith on July 27, 2020.

It started out as a typical day in the lumber yard in New Boston, Michigan, where Smith worked while finishing high school. But it turned tragic when, while cutting 2x4s on a table saw, he cut his left hand.

Shocked and in excruciating pain, Smith turned to a colleague for help. They rushed into the lumber yard office, where faces fell when they saw the extent of his injury. Her boss acted quickly, calling 911, then helping to compress the bleeding arm with a bandage and ice. A colleague retrieved the hand from outside and placed it in a Ziploc bag with ice.

About four minutes later, Smith was in an ambulance en route to the Detroit Receiving Hospital.

“When it happened I was thinking about the future – how I lost my chance to live a great life at 18, and what my life would be like with just one hand,” said Smith, who lives in Carlton. , a small village in Monroe County.

An EMS technician told him there was a chance doctors could reattach his hand, and the ambulance driver assured him that Detroit Receiving was the best hospital in the area to handle cases. of trauma.

Meanwhile, Wayne Health plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ahmed Hashem, MD, clinical professor of surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine, was called by a medical student about a patient coming in with an amputated hand. .

Ahmed Hashem, MD

“In these types of surgeries, we are racing against the clock because the amputated parts are only viable for six hours from the time of injury,” Dr. Hashem said. “After that, the muscle is dead and cannot be reconnected.”

Dr. Hashem rushed to the emergency room to examine the amputated hand under amplification to determine if a reattachment was possible. He explored and labeled arteries, nerves and tendons.

Once the feasibility of reattachment was determined, Smith was rushed to an operating room.

“Attachments are complex surgeries,” Dr. Hashem said. “It’s not a one-man show, it’s a team.”

In addition to Dr. Hashem, Smith’s surgical team included plastic surgery fellows Ashraf Elzanie, MD, and Gretchen Stieg, MD, as well as Kerellos Nasr, MD, orthopedic sports medicine and trauma surgeon; and anesthesiologist Katie Zacharzewski, DO, supported by nurses and surgical technicians.

During a grueling and complex 14-hour surgery, Dr. Nasr performed bone shortening, bone alignment, and bone fixation with plates and screws. The plastic surgery team removed dead tissue from the injury area and reconnected tendons, nerves, arteries and veins from the forearm to the hand. Critical blood flow to the reattached hand has been restored with the reconnection of arteries and veins. Arterial reconnection had to be performed twice due to the extent of the injury.

The demanding surgery required the alignment of 11 tendons on the front side of Smith’s forearm, 12 tendons on the back side, and the alignment of two major nerves to ensure a good functional outcome.

Smith was hospitalized at Detroit Receiving for nine days after the surgery. After a night at home, he developed a bleeding complication and returned to hospital for surgery to stop the bleeding, followed by a five-day hospitalization.

Since then, Smith said, his recovery has been “pretty phenomenal.”

Dr. Hashem said Smith was on track to regain function, had reasonable movements and was beginning sensory recovery.

Kyle Smith practices dexterity exercises with his hand attached.

“Kyle’s recovery has exceeded my expectations. He has recovered substantial function in his left hand with satisfying movement and sensation,” he said. “He is able to use it in everyday activities with no problem. I am really impressed with the result so far. It continues to improve fine motor skills and greater sensory discrimination.

“Getting my hand back is my full-time job right now,” said Smith, who attends occupational therapy and physical therapy three times a week and has regular checkups with Drs. Hashem and Nasr. “I can open, close, squeeze, grab and lift five-pound dumbbells with my hand. I miss small movements in my hand, but I find sensations in the wrist and the palm. I can’t pinch my fingers around something, so picking up a cotton swab from the floor the other day was a challenge.

It takes at least a year to reach the full extent of recovery after reattachment surgery.

Smith said Drs. Hashem and Nasr “are like my personal doctors. They’re always checking in, making sure I’m okay. They have all the answers, and I’ve never had any doubts with them. They are phenomenal.

As for what’s next, Smith said the injury “made me a better person. It definitely taught me to be humble…. And I’m making smarter decisions now and double-checking and tripling everything. As soon as I have the capacity, I am ready to take life.

Dr. Hashem joined Wayne Health in October 2020. He is a Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He enjoys teaching and research because it allows him to stay at the forefront of his field and contribute to the advancement of his specialty.

Dr. Hashem is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and has completed three years of advanced specialist training at the Cleveland Clinic, honing his skills in reconstructive microsurgery, craniofacial surgery and aesthetic plastic surgery. Previously, he completed advanced training in pediatric plastic surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and training in hand surgery at the French Institute of Hand Surgery in Paris.

This advanced training in several sub-specialties of plastic surgery qualifies him to practice reconstructive plastic surgery, cranio/maxillofacial surgery, hand surgery, pediatric plastic surgery as well as cosmetic surgery. For an appointment with Dr. Hashem, visit or call 877-929-6342.

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