Carolina Hand Surgeons Reconstruct a Patient’s Thumb Using an Unexpected Resource

Have you ever taken the time to consider how much you use your thumb every day? You’re probably using it right now to scroll down as you read this post. We tend to take our thumbs for granted, but that is no longer the case for one of our patients, who was recently featured in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

When Audrey Gaddis of Bryson City faced the loss of her right thumb to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, she turned to Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine doctors Bruce Minkin, MD and Chris Lechner, MD. As a career dental hygienist and avid bowler, she needed both thumbs for her livelihood.

Dr. Minkin and Dr. Lechner did successfully restore Gaddis’s thumb—but not in the way you might expect. Because of the location of the melanoma, they had to remove the entire thumb from the base up and rebuild a new one, using her big toe!

The procedure required multiple operations, considerable focus, and a team effort between Dr. Lechner, who removed her toe and carefully prepared it for transfer, and Dr. Minkin, who performed the attachment. It was a success—now, nearly 8 months after surgery, Gaddis is doing great in physical therapy, and it’s just a matter of time before she’s back at work and at the bowling alley.

This interview with Audrey Gaddis and her Carolina Hand surgeons offers a great preview into her experience:


You can also read the full extraordinary story in the Citizen-Times here.

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