Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 19:07 UK

Severed arm man returns to work

John Stirling back at work
John Stirling thought he would never recover the use of his left arm

A man from East Sussex whose arm was re-attached after he sliced it off in a chainsaw accident has returned to work.

John Stirling, from Telscombe Cliffs, slipped while using the chainsaw in the garden of his home a year ago.

He underwent 14 hours of emergency surgery after a neighbour put the limb in a bag containing frozen pastry.

"I've been extremely lucky... it's an old fashioned spade and fork for me [in the garden] from now on," said Mr Stirling, who works at Newhaven Marina.

Recalling the accident on 29 September, he said: "It happened in seconds and I knew that my jumper was caught, and I actually closed my eyes and thought I hope this stops before it does any damage.

Dead weight

"I felt a searing pain... and I opened my eyes and the arm was gone - it was on the lawn.

"So I had to move very quickly to stem the blood and then go for help."

His neighbour Steve Francis came to his aid after Mr Stirling kicked on his door.

John Stirling's damaged arm
John lost his forearm in a chainsaw accident

He dialled 999, tied a belt around the arm and retrieved the rest of the limb from the garden.

Thanks to his quick actions, doctors at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead were able to save the severed limb, re-attaching it during two lengthy operations.

"First of all I thought I'd lost it for good... in the early days it was just a dead weight," Mr Stirling said.

But after several months the feeling in his arm and fingers started to return.

"Surgeons did warn me that the nerves might not grow at all and I'm just incredibly happy and glad that it all turned out great," he said.

Mr Stirling said he had not quite got the full use of his arm back, but he had started to drive again and his consultant was optimistic.

"My expectations now are for an amazing recovery," he said.

John Stirling meets the paramedic who helped him

John Stirling meets one of the paramedics who helped save his arm after it was severed in a chainsaw accident

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