AN incidental blessing saved John Rundell from life as an amputee after he almost severed his hand with a circular saw earlier this month.
The Port Fairy man severed eight tendons, five nerves and five arteries in his left palm when a piece of timber he was sawing jammed, causing him to accidentally run his hand over the blade.
Fortunately, the recent recruitment of the south-west’s first plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Robert Toma, meant immediate surgery in Warrnambool prevented permanent damage.
Mr Rundell, used to odd jobs from decades of work as a farmer, said the “shock” of the ordeal had left little room to feel anything else.
“I wasn’t in a lot of pain,” he said.
“There wasn’t a great deal of blood when we checked the bench and the floor. I think because I held my hand close and wrapped it up.”
Mr Rundell alerted his wife who drove him to Port Fairy hospital where he was assessed before being taken to Warrnambool Base Hospital by ambulance.
One month after the accident, Mr Rundell yesterday said his recovery had been relatively pain free but he had not yet switched the saw back on, much to the relief of wife Joy.
“In 47 years he’s done a lot but this certainly has to be the highlight,” she laughed.
“We just think how lucky we were that help was so close to hand.”
Mr Toma said the healing process was progressing smoothly.
“We’re anticipating in about three months John will regain complete use of his hand,” the surgeon told The Standard.
“He has near full range of movement already.
“He’ll spend the next few months working on strength.”
Mr Toma is working between South West Healthcare, St John of God Hospital, Portland District Health and St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne after relocating to Warrnambool with wife Emma.
“There was a need for a plastic surgeon in the district,” he said this week.
“There is no plastic surgeon from Geelong to Adelaide.
“For people like John who would have had to travel to Geelong and spend a couple of days there, this is a bonus.”
Mr Toma has already dealt with between 30 to 40 cases of nerve injury, major foot and hand trauma and amputation in south-west residents who would normally go to a larger city for surgery and treatment.
He is waiting for specialised equipment to be set up.
SWHC has organised an appeal to raise money for its first reconstruction microscope, which is expected to be purchased by December.
It will help road and workplace accident victims, melanoma patients and women who have undergone mastectomies.