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What to Do if Your Finger is Cut Off

Accidents do happen, and in the tragic event that one or more of your fingers is severed, knowing what to do can make the difference between saving or losing your digit.

You usually have between six and 12 hours to have the finger reattached, so acting fast is essential. As soon as an accident occurs, you should:

  • Gather all parts of the severed finger, no matter how small. The surgeon may need them.
  • Put the finger and any parts on ice and wrap it in plastic wrap.
  • Place the finger in a jar or cup with lid.
  • Do not put it in water, as this will cause it to shrivel.
  • Call an ambulance and/or get to the emergency room as quickly as possible.

"Replanting" surgeries can be very successful if these steps are followed (as long as there is not extensive damage to the muscles). In fact, a 62-year-old woman recently had six of her fingers sliced off in a work accident. Surgeons were able to reattach all of her fingers after a 17-hour operation -- this was the first time so many fingers have been reattached in one procedure.

BBC News January 27, 2006

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