Mumbai: Baby with 7-and-half fingers gets a news thumb after complex surgery

Aug 02, 2018, 10:50 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

9-month-old did not have a thumb, but doctors perform complex procedure to remove the extra three-and-a-half fingers, from which they constructed the missing digit

Mumbai: Baby with 7-and-half fingers gets a news thumb after complex surgery
The baby's left hand was operated upon

In the Mahabharata, Ekalavya cut off his thumb when archery master Drona asked for it as guru dakshina (fees). Recently, St George hospital nicknamed a nine-month-old patient Ekalavya after they saw his left hand, which had seven-and-a-half fingers, but no thumb. But unlike the mythological Ekalavya, who had to live with four fingers, the doctors reconstructed a new thumb for the baby after removing the extra three-and-a-half fingers. What's more, they didn't even take any fees from the family.

The child's parents have withheld his name, but sources revealed that they are from Uttar Pradesh and came to Mumbai for a complicated plastic surgery to repair the baby's 'mirror hand'. The mirror hand deformity, also known as ulnar dimelia, is an extremely rare congenital anomaly of the upper limb, with only 100 such cases reported in literature across the world.

Rarest of rare cases
It's not uncommon to see people with extra fingers; even Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan has a double thumb on one hand. But Dr Rajat Kapoor, the plastic surgeon who operated upon the child, said, "People are often born with an additional finger, but seven-and-a-half fingers is extremely rare. This is the first such case I have received in my career." It took a complex seven-hour surgery to correct the rarest-of rare deformities in the second week of July.

"Not all the fingers function properly, so surgery is the only option. There is no specific scientific cause known for this condition. Also, without a thumb, a person can't perform many essential daily acts like writing or holding things. So, we had to surgically remove the additional fingers and also rebuild the missing thumb," added Dr Kapoor.
Dr Paras Kothari, head of the paediatric surgery department at Sion hospital, confirmed, "Six fingers is common, but eight fingers is rare. The cause can be genetic or due to a mutation; no specific reason is known yet."

09 months
Age of the patient treated

07 hours
Time it took to complete procedure

100
No. of such documented cases

3.5
No. of fingers removed in surgery

Why is it called mirror hand?
It manifests as a duplication of the ulnar (pinky) side of the hand, and often forearm. There is mirrored symmetry with a central digit, and three digits on either side. The thumb is absent. Children typically have seven or eight fingers, but not all work especially well. Prolonged use of the hand can result in discomfort or pain in the upper limbs as well.

A few celebs with extra digits
> Actor Gemma Arterton had two extra fingers
> West Indian cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers had extra fingers in both hands, later removed
> Tennis ace Maria Sharapova has 12 toes

Also read: Mumbai: After three hospitals and 15-hour ordeal, toddler battles for life

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