School boy says ‘thumbs up’ for Lister surgeons

When 15 year old Owen accidentally amputated his thumb, the team at the Lister were on hand to help…

Owen Powell (15) from Luton didn’t realise at first that he’d cut his thumb clean off when he slipped climbing over a fence back in May this year.  It was only later, at the hospital, that he realised the full extent of his injury.  The thumb from his right hand had been left behind on the field.

Taken to the Lister in Stevenage for specialist surgery, he was relieved when his thumb was found and brought in to the hospital.  An emergency surgery team, including a plastic surgeon, anaesthetist, nurses and other theatre support staff, worked through the night to reunite Owen with his thumb. The bones, blood supply, nerves, tendons and skin were reconnected to restore the use of his hand. The bones were held with stainless steel pins, whilst specialist microsurgery was needed to repair the tiny blood vessels to keep the thumb alive.

During his week’s stay at the Lister, his thumb had to be checked hourly – day and night – by nurses to ensure the blood was still flowing.  When it was discovered that the blood wasn’t getting through, Owen was rushed back to theatre to get it flowing again. Owen returned to the children’s ward and has since gone home to his mum and four sisters.

Thanks to the expert team at the Lister, Owen’s thumb is now looking nearly as good as new and most of his strength has returned to his hand.

The Powell Family

His surgeon at the Lister, Mr Animesh J Patel, said, “A completely amputated thumb is a very uncommon injury. Owen has been really brave, and the support of his family has made a tremendous difference to his recovery.  Although the initial surgery and stay in hospital were crucial to his recovery, he has put in a lot of time and effort with physiotherapy afterwards and this required a lot of self-determination. We’re very pleased with his progress and wish him well for the future.”

Owen’s mum, Rachel (pictured left with Owen, centre and her daughter Christina on the right), said, “We just want to thank everyone who helped to look after him.  Everyone – from the play specialists, the ward assistants and nurses to the top surgeons – has just been wonderful.  We always knew what was going on, and really can’t thank them enough.”

Asked about the future, Owen said, “I’m just glad I’ve still got my thumb.  There’s no more climbing over fences for me!”