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Handyman praises ward which helped save hand chopped off by saw

Former patient Ian Horsley gives a cheque to staff at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, Morriston Hospital.

A handyman has praised the “brilliant” staff at Morriston Hospital’s Pembroke Ward who saved his hand after it was cut off in an accident with a circular saw.

“I was helping a friend clear out a workshop,” Ian Horsley from Rosemarket village, near Milford Haven, explained. “We were cutting scrap wood and I was feeding the material in.

“When it happened, there was a thump but I didn’t realise my hand was off,” Ian said. 

“When I looked down, there was the horror of no hand there.”

As they were just 15 minutes away from Withybush General Hospital, 61-year-old Ian and his friend decided to drive straight to A&E instead of waiting for an ambulance.

After wrapping his arm and remaining thumb tightly in a pillowcase, they set off – with the hand safely stowed on the back seat. 

At Withybush, doctors quickly realised Ian’s injury needed specialist attention at Morriston Hospital’s Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery.

So he was prepped and transferred, arriving just over an hour after the accident happened.

Consultant plastic surgeon Dr Lydia Tang initially planned to use veins from Ian’s foot and tendons from his leg to repair the hand, but in surgery they were able to sew most of it back on. 

“The only thing they couldn’t save was my little finger,” Ian said. 

“That was found at the scene, in the saw, after we left. 

“It was sent via taxi but understandably they couldn’t wait for it to arrive because it could have jeopardised my whole hand.”

After 13 hours on the operating table, Ian was taken to Pembroke Ward, part of the burns and plastics centre. Though the healing process was not easy, Ian has praised staff for their care and positive attitudes.

“It was a horrendous experience but being on Pembroke Ward was wonderful,” Ian said. 

“The staff were brilliant, it was evident that there was a team spirit from the ladies who clean and bring the food to the surgeons. Everyone’s a cohesive team.

“The nurses got me through a few dark moments too. Being a handyman and self-employed I was very worried what would happen but they really helped me.”

Seven months on from the accident and Ian is recovering well. He has regained a lot of the feeling in his fingers and has been working hard to relearn fine motor skills using baby toys and other objects. 

Ian has also been focused on paying back the kindness he received. Now, thanks to generous donations from the community and friends of Rosemarket village, he has given £4,000 to Pembroke Ward.

“We raised the bulk of the money in an auction of promises and gifts. 

“Being a farming community we had things like potatoes for a year, promises to cut hedges and things like that, as well as vouchers from hairdressers and restaurants. 

“We also sold a bag of potatoes for £40.”

£480 of the fund also came from 12-year-old villager Joe Young, who shaved his head for sponsorship, and more than £300 came from a pub quiz. 

Pembroke Ward manager Martin Nicholls said: “The money raised is a very welcome addition to our endowment fund.  

“For our monitoring unit we will be purchasing chairs that recline. This will make a real difference to the patients’ stay.

“Although we have chairs, we want more comfortable ones for our patients. These are also easier to clean for the nursing staff.”

Ian added: “I’m so grateful the burns and plastic centre is in Morriston. If it had been in Cardiff, it would have been a different story for me. 

“I did not realise how many people local to me have had experience of the unit and all had high praise. 

“This is the NHS at its very best, we should be proud to have this unit in south Wales.”

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