The first time I saw it, I thought I was looking at a Salvador Dali painting. A hand looked like it was attached to the back of a person’s foot. Sure enough, it was. Was it somebody’s idea of nouveau art? It’s hard to tell anymore with all the strange stuff we see posted on the internet.
I soon learned that it was real. Surgeons had sewn a man’s severed hand to the back of one of his feet.
Since I grew up with a father who’s right leg had been blown off in the Korean War, I was intrigued with the “why”. Medical advancements have come a long way, much of it because of battlefield injuries.
“After a man lost his right hand in a work place accident in November, doctors in Changsha, Hunan province successfully reattached the limb by grafting it to his ankle for a month.
“The man, Xiao Wei, said that at the time of the accident he ‘was just shocked and frozen to the spot, until colleagues unplugged the machine and retrieved my hand and took me to the hospital. I am still young, and I couldn’t imagine life without a right hand.’
“Doctors opted to graft the hand to Wei’s ankle to prevent it from dying while they worked on his other extensive injuries. The doctors told Rex Features: ‘His injury was severe. Besides ripping injuries, his arm was also flattened. We had to clear and treat his injuries before taking on the hand reattachment surgery.’”
What a marvelous innovation that took years of small steps to get to this point. So much has happened in the field of medicine over the last 30 or 40 years that young people today have little or no knowledge of it.
A few years ago I had sinus surgery. People told me horror stories about what they went through. Mine was a breeze. What made the difference? Innovation spurred by people who wanted to make life better for people and entrepreneurs who wanted to make a buck.
What’s driven the innovation? There are a number of factors, but one that is most likely not discussed is profit. Every piece of medical equipment that is used in an operation like this was developed out of necessity and later manufactured to make a profit. Sure, people invent and doctor for altruistic reasons, but in the end the manufacture of the machines and instruments that make modern-day health care extraordinary is the profit motive.
“Nearly a month after his hand was severed, Mr Xiao had recovered sufficiently to undergo reattachment surgery.”
So the next time you are operated on, remember that there’s a capitalist somewhere who needs to be thanked. One also has to wonder if this type of complicated and expensive surgery will be permitted under ObamaCare.