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Mar/21/2014 - 12:19:38 am

Man who lost thumb gets big toe as replacement | Medical Alert - WBAL Home

Man who lost thumb gets big toe as replacement | Medical Alert - WBAL Home

A Baltimore County man is thankful to have the use of both of his hands after he lost his left thumb during a saw accident and doctors found a creative way to replace it.

Corey Taylor shows off his new thumb that was created with his big toe.
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Corey Taylor shows off his new thumb that was created with his big toe.

Corey Taylor said he takes pride in doing everyday tasks like buttoning his shirt because he lost his left thumb using a saw in 2011. Doctors replaced it with his big toe.

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"I can do everything I was able to do before with no problem," Taylor told 11 News.

After the accident, Taylor went without a thumb for six months while he healed. He said it was extremely difficult to do menial tasks like grabbing onto things.

Dr. Ryan Katz at the Curtis National Hand Center at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore suggested using Taylor's big toe as a replacement. He said the center does about five such surgeries a year.

"You have to be very precise in dissecting out all of the elements of the toe, and all of the elements of the toe are all of the elements of the missing thumb. So you have bone, tendon, nerve, skin, soft tissue. Everything you need is down there," Katz said.

Doctors said most patients don't have any problem with balance once they lose a toe. The toe works well as a thumb because they function very similarly.

"When you're trying to reconstruct a thumb, you say, 'What's missing, and where can we get that to help rebuild the thumb?' When you're missing the thumb, you're missing length, sensibility, motion and aesthetic, and a toe has all of that," Katz said.

After the transplant, Taylor went through months of physical therapy to learn how to use his new thumb just like the old one.

"Recovery and the rehabilitation -- a lot of that was stretching, getting the thumb to move and work, and picking up little things," Taylor said.

"The thing that's the hardest to get back is the motion, and that's really the thing we're focusing on," Katz said.

It's been two years since Taylor's transplant, and he said life is back to normal. He said he doesn't even notice anything different about his left thumb.

"Every time I mention it to everybody, they're astounded. They don't even believe it's my big toe," Taylor said. "It's great. I couldn't ask for anything better. I've told Dr. Katz he's a miracle worker."

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