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Man loses thumb in woodworking accident, doctors replaced it with his toe

CARSON CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — Aiden Atkins’ road to recovery began with a thumbs up.

“It didn’t hurt at all, not even a little bit,” Atkins said.

Atkins showed WOOD-TV how he sawed his thumb off his left hand on April 20. It happened while he was creating a wooden gift for his then-girlfriend.

“I realized that what I had seen fly was not anything to do with the piece of wood. It actually was my thumb I had seen fly,” Atkins said.

Time was ticking to reattach Adkins’ thumb. The surgery had to be done within four hours, but his family couldn’t find it. In fact, they still haven’t found it.

Atkins went without a thumb for four months, then decided that replacing his thumb would be better in the long run.

“God has a plan for everything,” Atkins said. “He does it for a reason.”

On Aug. 20, doctors detached Atkins’ left index toe at the University of Michigan Hospital. They used it to reconstruct a thumb.

A month after his surgery, Atkins started hand therapy with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s Hand Therapy Program. He worked closely with his occupational therapist, Kelly Nye.

“His thumb does bend and straighten pretty well,” Nye said. “That’s the most motion I’ve ever seen out of a toe-to-thumb transfer.”

Nye spent months teaching Atkins how to reuse and regain strength in his new thumb. All the practice has helped Atkins continue his passion for taxidermy and his love for target practice.

But it’s really the love from his therapist that helped him end his road to recovery with another thumbs up.

“I definitely wouldn’t be as far as what I am if it wasn’t for you helping me,” Atkins said.

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