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When an Australian teenager got her thumb replaced by a toe after botched surgery

Britney Thomas fractured her thumb while playing cricket in Hong Kong. Her toe was stitched as thumb after a messed up surgery. (Photo Source: abc.net.au)

A Victorian teenager- Britney Thomas- was all set to embark on her dream of playing professional cricket at the age of 17. But cruelty was served on a platter to her as a blunder committed during a surgery led to her thumb being replaced by her toe. It started when she injured her thumb while playing cricket in Hong Kong. Later, she came to know that she had suffered a rather nasty fracture.

In order to remedy, she was sent to Latrobe Regional Hospital to undergo an operation by a local orthopedic surgeon. Before the critical operation, a tourniquet was applied to restrict the blood flow during the surgery. Britney was told that it would be taken off once the operation was over. Following the operation, the thumb was set in plaster and she was sent home.

Only five days later, she went through some unbearable pain. She told it was “the worst pain I think I have ever been through.” Britney’s story was aired as a part of Four Corners investigation into Australia’s concerning standard of health care.

What’s going to happen to me?- Britney

She went back to her local GP to get the plaster removed to see what was causing the pain. On the cast being removed, it was learned that the tourniquet had never been taken off. “They pulled the plaster off and it was very dark and looked dead. The skin was all yucky. I was mortified, it was horrible,” Leanne Keating, Britney’s mother, said.

The teen’s thumb was restricted off blood for such a long time that it had to be removed. “They took me into the emergency and they were like ‘You’re probably going to lose your thumb’. I was in so much disbelief and I was like ‘What’s going to happen to me? What’s going to happen to my cricket?’” an absolutely distraught Britney said.

People ask me ‘Why does your thumb look so weird’- Britney

The error meant that most of her thumb had to be amputated and what was left had to be stitched to her groin for six weeks in order to get the nerves working again. Britney’s big toe was removed and stitched onto her hand to make a new thumb. A replacement toe was created using her hip bone. The doctors used leeches to get the blood flow going, but to no avail.

Britney has had to face a lot of questions on her thumb and she doesn’t have any option other than answering. She recalled how her dreams went down the hill within a blink of an eye. “People ask me ‘Why does your thumb look so weird’ and I say because it’s not my thumb it’s my toe. I went from being able to do everything and now I can’t do anything,” she stated.

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