Hand it to the docs

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14, 2012): An insurance agent who had lost a hand in a robbery will likely be able to use it again.

This is thanks to the team of doctors who not only carried out surgery through the night to reattach it, but went beyond the call of duty to search the crime scene for the severed member.

The quick action and exemplary dedication of the doctors from Gleneagles Hospital Jalan Ampang, led to the severed hand being reattached to its owner within 10 hours of the violent crime which occurred outside a restaurant in Jalan Ampang about 9pm of Feb 3.

The victim, who wished to be identified only as Poon, 47, had been attacked by three robbers including a woman, who chopped off his left hand before relieving him of his handphone and money he had withdrawn from an ATM shortly before driving to meet friends at the restaurant.

A shocked Poon, on realising his hand had been severed, drove himself to seek treatment at the Gleneagles Hospital, less than 2km away.

Doctors said when Poon reached the emergency department at around 9.30pm, he was about to collapse due to loss of blood.

"His car was smeared with blood. His blood pressure was dropping and the emergency doctor was quick to calm him down and treat him," Gleneagles Hospital consultant trauma and hand microsurgeon Dr Palani Ramasamy told theSun.

Palani said the hospital immediately reported the incident to the police and sought their help to locate the severed hand for reattachment.

"When we did not hear from the police even 30 minutes after seeking their help, our medical team decided that we should go and look for the hand ourselves as the crime scene was not far from the hospital," he said.

"We were racing against the clock, because the faster you reattach it, the better it would be. There is a chance for limbs to be successfully reattached within six hours to 12 hours of being severed, depending on whether or not it is kept in ice," he said.

"We knew we could save his hand if we could find it in time," he said, adding that the team found the severed member about 100m away from the place Poon was attacked, after searching the area around the restaurant for about a half hour.

Then came eight hours of surgery by Palani and his team through the night, beginning from 11.30pm to 7.30am the next day.

"We had to shorten the bone a little and stitch three major nerves, three major arteries, three veins, and about 30 muscles and tendons," said Palani, adding that Poon was lucky that everything worked out well.

He said after the surgery, Poon was beginning to be able to move his hand and feel some sensation.

Speaking to theSun from his hospital bed, Poon said he felt blessed to get his hand back.

"It may not function like it used to be but at least, I have my hands," said the insurance agent who expressed his gratitude to the doctors and medical team who went the extra mile to save his hand.

He said he could not recall much about the robbery, as he was in shock.

"At first I did not know what happened ... I suddenly felt a warm sensation and realised I was bleeding. Then only did I realise that my hand had been chopped off.

"The first thing that crossed my mind was that I had to rush to the hospital, so I quickly drove with one hand to Gleneagles to seek treatment," he said.

Expressing disappointment over the level of public safety, Poon said Ampang used to be a friendly area but armed robberies had become rampant.

"It is extremely sad to see that some people will go to whatever extent, even to jeopardising someone's life in order to get what they want," he said.

Cheras deputy district police chief Supt Abdul Rahim Hamzah Othman said police have classified the case as robbery and are on the lookout for the robbers.

He urged anyone with information about the robbery to contact the KL police hotline at 03-21159999.