Teen's toe attached to hand after juicer accident

Doctors estimated it will take nine months for Li Xuan to recover before she can begin rehabilitation on her injured hand.
Doctors estimated it will take nine months for Li Xuan to recover before she can begin rehabilitation on her injured hand.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MABEL ANG

But she is under observation for complications

After a 10-hour operation, doctors have managed to attach a 14-year-old teenager's toe to her right hand, which had been crushed by a sugarcane juicer.

However, Tan Li Xuan remains under observation after developing complications in her hand.

She was forced to undergo another four-hour operation one day after the original surgery, which took place last Thursday at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Her mother Mabel Ang, 44, told The Straits Times yesterday: "Doctors said there were some blood flow issues either because of a blood clot or the shrinking of a vein after the toe was attached."

She said her daughter is still drifting in and out of consciousness as her blood pressure is low.

The accident on Dec 22 occurred when Li Xuan tried to dislodge a piece of sugarcane which was jammed in a juicer at her father's drinks stall. Her severed right index and middle fingers could not be saved.

While her right toe was transplanted to her half-severed thumb to allow her to hold things with her right hand, doctors also performed two skin grafts to repair the skin, which was left badly lacerated by the accident.

They took skin from her left elbow for her palm and skin on her thigh for her right arm.

Doctors estimated that it will take the Guangyang Secondary School student nine months to recover before she can begin rehabilitation on her injured hand, said her mother, who works as a casino dealer at Marina Bay Sands.

As the Sec 2 student is right-handed, she will be trained by therapists to use her left hand for daily activities.

Despite the accident, Li Xuan remains in high spirits, said the teen's mother.

"This is just the beginning of a long journey of healing and adjustment, but she still talks and jokes with us, in slow motion," said Madam Ang.

However, her family are worried their insurance may not be able to cover the hospital bills, and Madam Ang intends to use her Medisave to defray the costs.

Her husband Tan Guan An, 50, is still traumatised by the accident, and has closed his stall at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 hawker centre indefinitely.

He had previously forbidden his three teenage children from operating an earlier juicer because he thought it was too dangerous.

When he bought a new one which was meant to be safer, Li Xuan was eager to help out at the stall and ease her father's workload.

Madam Ang said: "He still has a phobia of the place as it reminds him of what happened."

jantai@sph.com.sg