What to Do When You Lose an Appendage


Put it in some Tupperware with ice, you think. But this is wrong. Direct contact with the ice can cause the appendage in question to get freezer burn, a nurse impatiently informed Jim Beaty after he severed his finger. You wouldn’t do that to a nice steak, so why would you do it to your own hand? A fair point, and should he cut off another part of himself, now Jim knows what exactly to do. But the rest of us potential amputees still need to be educated, which is where CNN comes in.

The first thing you do when a body part becomes detached is control the bleeding. Put direct pressure on the wound and elevate it higher than the heart, advises Dr. Dave Manthey, professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Then rinse off the severed finger or toe (or part thereof). “You are trying to decrease the bacteria,” Manthey explains. “But don’t scrub it. If you scrub, you’re causing blunt force damage.”

Who would scrub their raw bleeding muscle and open arteries? You’d be surprised.

Who would scrub their raw bleeding muscle and open arteries? You’d be surprised.

Now get a clean cloth or piece of sterile gauze, dampen it with cold water, and wrap the finger or toe in it. Then put the wrapped appendage into a plastic bag and put the bag in cold (preferably iced) water. Finally, notes Manthey, keep the body part with you. For example, don’t give it to a spouse, who might end up getting separated from you on the way to the hospital.

Do you know how many marriages end because someone lost track of someone else’s severed appendage? We don’t think we need statistics to tell you it’s a lot.

What to do when body parts fall off [CNN]