A Staten Island man who nearly lost both hands in a work accident gave a celebratory fist pump Wednesday to the doctors who reattached those hands.
"I hit the lotto," said Ken Klapak. "I am a rich man."
Klapak, a sheet metal worker at a firm in North Babylon on Long Island, got his hands caught in a metal bending machine May 16. The 53-year-old was taken by helicopter to Stony Brook University hospital, where doctors said the only thing holding Klapak's hands to his arms were some flexor tendons. All the bone, arteries and nerves had been cut away.
"It happened literally in a split second," Klapak said. "I was scared. I was very, very scared."
It took eight hours and four doctors to treat the injuries. The medical team reattached both hands simultaneously in what they called an "unusual" surgery. Doctors could remember only one other procedure like it over the last 20 years.
"This was like our Super Bowl," said Dr. Jason Ganz. "I can’t say enough what a well-oiled machine the operating room staff was.”
"I can't thank the doctors enough," Klapak said. "I woke Friday morning and the first thing, I looked and thanked God my hands were attached.”
Klapak still faces a difficult road ahead, doctors said. He must undergo more surgeries and at least a year of therapy. But with hard work, doctors believe he will be able to regain much of the normal use of his hands.
Flanked by his wife of six years, Klapak said he is ready for the challenge. His primary incentive is to play his guitar again. He has played for more than 40 years.
“That’s what attracted me to him, playing the guitar,” said Kim Klapak. “I am most definitely waiting for him to play again.”
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Klapak said. “I am truly a wealthy man."