An injured Mississippi man is preparing for an operation in San Francisco on Wednesday that will replace his severed thumb with one of his toes, according to his surgeon.

Michael Stevens, a 42-year-old auto mechanic from Pearl, Miss., is scheduled to undergo a complete toe-to-thumb transplant on his left hand at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco.

Stevens lost his left thumb in a workplace accident while replacing the radiator fan in a bulldozer in October, said a spokesman for St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“It’s been a real long battle with workman’s comp,” Stevens said. “They told me I would be disabled. My wife didn’t give up. She stayed on the Internet till she found Dr. Charles Lee.”

Dr. Charles Lee, Chief of Plastic Surgery and Director of Reconstructive Microsurgery at St. Mary’s Medical Center, explained that because Stevens requires the full use of his hands for his profession, it is even more essential that he undergo full reconstructive surgery, as opposed to cosmetic surgery, which is what Stevens’ workers’ compensation insurance was initially prepared to cover.

“He was told he had to live with it, which is devastating,” Lee said. “He won’t be able to return to his occupation without the surgery.”

Stevens said that his workers’ compensation insurance coverage is partially covering the operation.

“Lee took a drastic cut, he’s getting 70 percent less in pay,” Stevens said.

According to Lee, he and his team will partner with Dr. Scott Hansen and his team from the University of California at San Francisco on the operation.

Stevens has been told that it may take up to a year to get all the movement back in his thumb, but that in five weeks he should be able to start moving his fingers. He will also have to adjust to walking without a toe.

“It will affect my balance but I should be able to overcome it,” Stevens said.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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