Re-attached: man’s severed hand

2008-07-30 00:00

Pretoria — With his hand in a plastic Checkers packet filled with ice, a man was rushed to the Acacia Hospital in Pretoria. Three hours later a medical team was able to re-attach the hand.

Benny Matsemela (28), of Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, still dreams at night that his hand is missing and wakes with a fright. “When I see my hand, I’m very happy,” he told Beeld yesterday.

He was measuring a wooden plank at his work last Monday when he accidentally cut off his hand with an electric saw. Matsemela works at Summit in Pretoria, a company that makes wooden spools to wind rope on.

“The saw went on suddenly and grabbed my hand. I grabbed my arm and pulled back my hand and when I saw it was cut off, I ran to my manager.

“I cried a lot,” Matsemela said yesterday.

As he was running, he lost consciousness and his co-workers ran to help him.

Summit’s human resources manager, Mpho Mosana, said one of the workers picked up Matsemela’s hand, put it in a packet filled with ice and tied the bag closed.

“When I heard him crying and screaming, I decided there wasn’t time to wait for an ambulance. We put him and the hand in the car and I rushed to the hospital,” Mosana said.

“Benny kept asking if they were going to re-attach his hand and I assured him they would. I was very scared but I had to put on a brave face for him,” Mosana said.

When they stopped at the hospital, they were helped quickly.

Orthopaedic surgeon Tende Chagwiza, was immediately called.

“On the way to hospital, I phoned my friend Andre Peach, an orthopaedic surgeon who had done the same operation five years ago, to ask his advice.

“I also phoned Solly Selahle, a plastic surgeon at the Medunsa Campus of Limpopo University, to assist me,” Chagwiza said. The operation was difficult but successful.

“It was my first operation of this kind and I’m very glad that it went so well,” said Chagwiza. Chagwiza specialised in orthopaedics at the University of Pretoria.

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