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'She'll be right': Severed hand saved by relaxed attitude

Published: 2:43PM Sunday November 16, 2014 Source: Sunday

X-ray of Mr McLean's severed hand (Source: Supplied)
X-ray of Mr McLean's severed hand - Source: Supplied
  • Justy McLean (Source: Supplied)
    Justy McLean - Source: Supplied

When Justy McLean arrived at hospital with his severed hand in a chilly bin, surgeons were stunned at his "she'll be right" attitude.

In April of this year, Mr McLean chopped off his hand in a log-splitting machine while working in a remote Southland forest.

"I didn't feel too much, it happened that quick," says Mr McLean.

The 41-year old forestry worker could have died from shock and blood loss - but he stayed calm as a quick-witted workmate, Darren Scannell, drove at up to 180 kilometres per hour to get Mr McLean and his hand to help.

Mr Scannell feels his speeding was justified, saying: "Well it's better than somebody bleeding and dying isn't it?"

A local policeman, a helicopter pilot, family and strangers pulled out all the stops to get Mr McLean to Christchurch Hospital. He arrived six hours later, just in time for surgeons to have a chance of successfully reattaching his hand.

"The clock is ticking. It's dead until it's replanted or gets blood supply," said plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dylan James, one of a team of 14 who worked through the night to save the hand.

Doctors couldn't believe how calm Mr McLean remained, even texting on his phone with his one good hand as he went into surgery.

Surgeons credit his successful recovery and rehabilitation with his relaxed attitude.

"I'm sure the power of the mind & it's probably why he's done reasonably well out of it," says Mr James

Despite the ordeal, Mr McLean says he hopes to return to manual work.

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