New Nerve Procedure Saves Man's Finger

Freak accident nearly took man's finger, but second opinion saved the day

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getting a second opinion saved a Bay Area man's finger after he nearly lost it in a freak accident. Marianne Favro shows us how a new procedure developed in San Francisco made the difference.

    Christopher Schardt of Oakland distinctly remembers the day he severed his finger while trying to hop down off a fence last July.

    “The top of the fence snagged on my ring and it tore the tissue off my finger," Schardt said.

    The 49 year old packed his finger in ice and headed to the emergency room where a doctor gave him one option.

    “The only alternative is cut the whole thing off. Literally that was what I was told,”Schardt said.

    He decided to quickly get a second opinion, knowing his finger would die without a blood supply.

    He came to the Buncke Clinic in San Francisco, known for pioneering the field of microsurgery.

    Hand surgeon Dr. Bauback Safa reattached Schardt's finger using a skin graph from his own forearm to restore blood flow to his finger.

    Then Dr. Safa used a new approach. He implanted a processed cadaver nerve.

    The new procedure spared Schardt from a second surgery to retrieves nerve from his foot which would have left that area numb.

    “With the new option using cadaver nerves you don’t have to use a donor site from the foot and the operating time is much less”, Dr. Safa said.

    The procedure worked.

    Six months later Schardt has sensation in his finger and the computer programmer can type on his computer. He can also play the piano again.

    “I’m just grateful I still have a finger,” Schardt said.