Monday, April 21, 2008

Our little salamander...

Many of you recall the Dreaded Finger Mishap of '06, in which Rachel lost the tippy tip of her finger, along with her fingernail. Well, you'd never know to look at her. Her finger is well...a finger. It looks completely normal, fingernail and all. We used to joke that Rachel had regenerative abilities, like a salamander. Well, Adrian was reading his Scientific American tonight, and it turns out that all humans may have this ability-when it comes to our fingertips.

from the article:

One of the most encouraging signs that human limb regeneration is a feasible goal is the fact that our fingertips already have an intrinsic ability to regenerate. This observation was made first in young children more than 30 years ago, but since then similar findings have been reported in teenagers and even adults. Fostering regeneration in a fingertip amputation injury is apparently as simple as cleaning the wound and covering it with a simple dressing. If allowed to heal naturally, the fingertip restores its contour, fingerprint and sensation and undergoes a varying degree of lengthening. The success of this conservative treatment of fingertip amputation injuries has been documented in medical journals thousands of times. Interestingly, the alternative protocol for such injuries typically included operating to suture a skin flap over the amputation wound, a “treatment” that we now know will inhibit regeneration even in the salamander because it interferes with formation of the wound epidermis. The profound message in these reports is that human beings have inherent regenerative capabilities that, sadly, have been suppressed by some of our own traditional medical practices.

When we took Rachel to the ER, they cleaned and dressed the wound, prescribed antibiotics, and grimly informed us that she probably wouldn't have a fingernail and it might not look the same. During our follow-up with our pediatrician, she said the same thing. When we visited later for a regular checkup, she was stunned to see the finger and fingernail intact, gasping, "But it was GONE!" Turns out, the hospital did just the right thing to let her finger do it's thing. Score one for salamander fingers!

I tried to take a picture of the finger in question, but my camera battery died. All I have to offer is a photo of the bandaged baby. I didn't take any gory wound photos...ew!

By the way, this does not mean that I'm giving you carte blanche to go out and be careless with your digits. DO be careful!

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