Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK


Health

Children love toes on hands

The technique was developed in Leeds

Children are delighted with an operation to have toes transplanted onto their hand, a psychologist has found.

The procedure, which might well be considered strange, is used to help children who are born with hand deformities or who have lost a finger or thumb.

Because the operation is so unusual, Dr Maggie Bellew, a clinical psychologist at St James's Hospital in Leeds, decided to investigate the impact it might have on a child's mind.

On the whole, the 37 children who had the surgery she investigated were extremely happy with it and reported that friends had responded well to the change.

Surgical technique

Dr Bellew questioned children who had the operation at St James's under Mr Simon Kay, a consultant plastic surgeon.

It was developed in 1968, originally to help patients who had lost fingers in an accident.

During the 1970s it was also used on children, and at the St James unit is mainly performed on children who were born with hand abnormalities.

Dr Bellew will use the findings of her study when helping parents decide whether or not to let their children go through with the operation.

Satisfaction rating

The survey found that after one year, children expressed "a high level of satisfaction" with the new transplanted digit.

And Dr Bellew found that the children were even more positive about the results than their parents.

"It was very encouraging because that's the concern parents have - how are children going to live with it?" she told BBC News Online.

"So it's just the sort of thing a parent needs to know - from the child's first hand experience of the toe transfer - that it really is good."

Positive approach

Only 92% of the parents thought the operation had "improved" or "very much improved" their child's hand function.

But all the children thought their hand worked better, with 89% saying it was "very much improved".

The children were also happy with the appearance of their hands, as were their friends.

Dr Bellew presented her findings at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society, which is being held in Leeds.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

06 May 99 | Health
Surgery restores use of limb

16 Apr 99 | Health
Thumbs up for hand transplant

25 Sep 98 | Health
'World's first hand transplant'





Internet Links


British Psychological Society

St James's Hospital


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99