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'Pretty Terrifying': Severed Hand Reattached In Marathon Surgery

A 23-year-old could one day regain use of his hand after painstakingly delicate surgery to reattach it following a workplace accident that saw it completely severed.

Lawrence "Lorry" Cooper had his right hand severed in an accident at the meat packing plant where he worked.

A quick-thinking colleague got the hand on ice straight away, likely saving it, while Lorry walked outside and laid down in shock.

"It's pretty terrifying, when you see your hand missing.

"Most of it wasn't really pain. They call it phantom pain, where you can still feel your hand, even though it's not there. Other than that most of it was pretty cold," he said.

Before and after X-Rays show the clean cut of Lorry's hand. PIC Mater Hospital

He was raced to Brisbane's Mater hospital for emergency micro-surgery, which surgeons said took close to seven and a half hours.

"We generally worked in order of bone, tendons and muscles then vessels and arteries.

"Stabilising the bone is the first part of the puzzle and then treat the under and upper surface of the hand separately to repair tendons on both sides. At that point we repair arterial inflow and venous outflow to re-introduce blood to the hand," Dr Andrew Hadj said.

His surgeons said they see more than their fair share of workplace accidents, but Lorry's was a once-in-a-decade injury.

"There were no jagged parts to the bone due to the clean cut, making reattachment that bit easier," Dr Theo Birch said.

"We usually reattach the odd finger or two but rarely the whole hand and this cut was in an unusual location," Dr Hadj said.

The fact Lorry was able to move his fingers just a day after the surgery was also rare.

He's now two months into his recovery, and does daily rehabilitation exercises with an occupational therapist.

It's unlikely his hand will return to normal function, but his hand is likely to be functional.

It's unlikely his hand will ever fully return to normal use, but the likelihood of having a 'functional' hand is excellent.

"My rehabilitation is a daily thing and I'm pretty motivated to do it and also know not to overdo it, which is a possibility," Lorry said.

"It's a long road to my recovery and we don't really know exactly what that looks like but I hope I'll be able to use my hand a bit more."