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Spanish surgeon reattaches US sailor’s hand after submarine accident

Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, left, Dr. Pedro Cavadas, a neurosurgeon at Hospital de Manises in Valencia, Spain, center, and Capt. Michael McGinnis, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Force Surgeon, answer questions during an awards ceremony and press conference at the hospital May 4, 2018. Foggo visited the hospital to present the Civilian Meritorious Service Award to Dr. Cavadas and his team for the emergency medical care of a Sailor that suffered a serious injury. U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, oversees joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to enable enduring relationships and increase vigilance and resilience in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson/Released)
May 09, 2018

A U.S. Navy sailor who was serving on a submarine and lost his hand in an industrial accident at sea had it reattached by a Spanish surgical team, the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet said in a statement last week.

After the unidentified sailor lost his right hand and received on-the-scene medical attention, the sailor was transported by a Spanish Coast Guard vessel and helicopter coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center to Hospital de Manises in Valencia, Spain.

The surgery to reattach his hand took place March 27.

On May 4, Dr. Pedro Cavadas, a reconstructive surgeon at the hospital, was awarded the Superior Public Service Award for reattaching the sailor’s hand. Other awards were given to the surgical team.

According to the Navy Times, the sailor was injured on board the USS Georgia.

It took 10 hours for the sailor to reach the hospital after the hand was amputated, the Spanish newspaper ABC reported. A catheter was needed to get blood flowing from the artery of the stump to the artery of the hand.

A skin graft from the sailor’s leg was also used to reattach the hand.

“Due to the timely response by the Spanish rescue personnel and medical team, and because of the seamless teamwork between Spanish assets and U.S. Forces, the patient’s chances for recovery were greatly enhanced,” said Adm. James Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy.

“The response to this incident is a testament to enduring partnership between the U.S. and Spain, and to the skill and professionalism of the rescue personnel who quickly responded to provide assistance and medical treatment to this Sailor,” he added.

The sailor is expected to make a full recovery.

“It seems that normal, well-trained and motivated people doing routine things, when they come together, can do remarkable things,” Dr. Cavadas said. “No man alone can do anything, I have to commend and recognize my team. They are hard workers… and they are the best team ever.”