A 21-year-old man, whose forearm was severed in a road accident on the GT Karnal Road in October last year, managed to carry the limb — wrapped in a cloth — to a city hospital, where he was rushed in a barely-conscious state.
Nearly four months after doctors re-implanted the amputated arm in a 12-hour reconstruction surgery, Sanchit Gupta has begun to feel sensation in his palm and move his fingers. Doctors expect him to regain at least 70 per cent limb function in the coming months.
His parents said their son had started feeling a “tingling sensation till the middle of his palm”.
Gupta, a BBA final-year student who is a resident of Pitampura, was driving home from a friend’s house around 2 am on October 13 last year, when a truck rammed his car.
“His left forearm was severed just below the elbow and he sustained minor head injuries. Though dazed by the impact of the accident and the sight of his arm having been separated, he had the presence of mind to wrap the severed arm in a cloth,” Dr S V Kharbanda, senior consultant in plastic surgery at Max Shalimar Bagh Hospital, who operated on him, said.
An auto-rickshaw driver rushed Gupta to the hospital with the arm, where it was immediately put in an ice box. “He was barely conscious and had lost a lot of blood… We rushed him to the operation theatre by 3.30 am,” Dr Kharbanda said.
Fourteen tendons, four blood vessels and the forearm bones had been destroyed. “We had the luxury of time on our side since we started the surgery barely an hour after the injury. If the amputated arm is not re-vascularised within five-six hours of the surgery and its blood flow with the rest of the body reinstated, such reconstruction surgeries are mostly not successful,” Dr Kharbanda said.
Doctors said in many such cases of amputation induced by trauma, often the severed limb is brought to hospital after 12-15 hours. “Search parties are sent to the site to fetch the limb and, by then, we lose so much time that re-implantation is a near-impossibility and, even if we do it, the outcome is very poor. If a severed limb is preserved in an ice box at temperatures below zero degree within the Golden Hour – the first hour after an accident – re-implantation is very much a possibility and the patient can regain up to 60-70 per cent of the arm function very easily. Outcomes can be further improved with physiotherapy,” a professor of surgery at the AIIMS trauma centre said.
The 21-year-old’s father said, “When I first got the call about the accident and heard his arm had been cut off, I never imagined it could be re-implanted like this… I did not know such surgeries were possible. Doctors repeatedly tell me that he was brave and had presence of mind to carry his arm back…”