Pilgrimage to San Francisco Brings Renewed Lease on Life Toe to Thumb Transplant Patient Arrives at St. Mary’s Medical Center from Pearl, Mississippi

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Mike Stevens lost his entire thumb replacing a radiator fan. For four months and several doctor searches later, he and his wife read online about the PROS (Plastic, Reconstructive and Orthopedic Surgery) microsurgery center at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco, where Dr. Charles Lee has performed toe to thumb transplant surgeries from all over the country.

When Mike Stevens lost his entire thumb replacing a radiator fan, he though his life as an automotive mechanic was over. There were no microsurgery specialists in his hometown of Pearl, Mississippi and the closest medical facilities capable of such a highly-specialized reconstructive operation were at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa.

As Mike and his wife Regina listened to the University of Alabama surgeons explain their recommendation to remove his index finger and position it where his lost thumb was, they reacted in unison. “He would still be disabled,” recalled Regina. “We were hoping for a better solution, something that would let Mike return to his work fully-functional.” The resourceful Regina searched the Internet to find a solution. She began in hope there might be a “thumb bank”, as there were for blood and organs. What she found was much better. “I read about a microsurgery center at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco called PROS (Plastic, Reconstructive and Orthopedic Surgery) where Dr. Charles Lee had taken the tip of a big toe and replaced a partially severed thumb. “We were ecstatic,” Regina said.

“Mike’s toe-to-thumb surgery is especially complicated,” stated Dr. Charles Lee, Chief of Plastic Surgery & Director of Reconstructive Microsurgery at St. Mary's Medical Center. “His thumb was entirely severed; not just the tip, but down to the third interior joint.” Dr. Lee continued, “It’s very rare to replace the entire thumb. We will be reconnecting bone, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, all that will make his toe fully-functional as a thumb.” The thumb is approximately 50 to 60% of the function of the entire hand, and in Mike's case, it is his left and dominant hand.

The Plastic, Reconstructive and Orthopedic Surgery Center at St. Mary's Medical Center is a collaboration between St. Mary's and the University of California, San Francisco. Providing state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary medical services, the surgeons, nurses and medical staff work as a team under the direction of Dr. Charles Lee and UCSF plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Hansen. Patients from as far away as Alaska, London and now Pearl, Mississippi, have utilized this world-class surgical center.

Mike’s operation will be tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb, 29. “We estimate that Mike will be able to go back to work in about six months,’ said Dr. Lee. “Losing your big toe requires reestablishing your balance, but that will return quickly. His new thumb will look and work great,” concluded Dr. Lee.

St. Mary's Plastic, Reconstructive and Orthopedic Surgery (PROS) Center
450 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117



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Dee Mostofi
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