To say Diane Penn is an animal lover would be an understatement.
“I have six dogs, four horses, two cats, an iguana, a gecko, a blue and gold macaw, four love birds, and three parakeets . . . and a guinea pig and turtles,” says Diane Penn.
She’s been knocked down, nicked, scratched and pawed. But nothing compares to what happened when she was feeding her horse, Paint.
“He went to get the hay and bit my finger and when I yanked it, he bit harder. He thought I was taking his food away. I knew I had been bitten but I didn’t have any idea how bad,” says Penn.
“The horse tooth went through the bone, went through the skin and went through the nail plate. However there was a flap of skin that was that allowed the fingertip to continue having blood flow,” says Dr. Dennis Sagini, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Animal bites present a real challenge. Most times there is twisting and tearing of tendons and tissue. If it’s only a partial amputation, the chance of success goes up.
“The near amputation is a situation where somebody has an injury that causes a digit or extremity to be 70, 80, 90% amputated. So there is exposed bone and exposed tissue, however there is still a connection of skin,” says Dr. Sagini.
Any amount of blood flow may be enough to keep the digit alive. When a finger or thumb is completely amputated, your best chance of saving it is to preserve it. Don’t put it on ice it may cause frostbite.
“Wrap that amputated part in a saline cloth or gauze and moisten. Put it into a plastic bag and then put it into an ice water bath. Keeping it cool will allow the amputated part to survive longer, increasing the chances of a successful re-plantation,” says Dr. Sagini.
Elevate the stump, apply compression and get to the hospital right away. The tip of Penn’s thumb was never found, the remaining skin was used to rebuild it.
“He did such a wonderful job, it looks normal. No one would know I am missing half inch three-eights of an inch from my finger,” says Penn.
She has full use of it now...
And trusts Paint learned his lesson about biting the hand that feeds him.