A 1-year-old baby born without a thumb will soon be able to grab things with his right hand for the first time thanks to a procedure Long Island doctors say was no small feat.
A tiny cast was taken off of Brandon Torres' newly created thumb on Tuesday, nearly a month after doctors at the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park performed a surgical procedure to create the crucial appendage.
Torres, of Queens, was born without a right thumb due to a rare disorder known as Duane-radial ray syndrome, which the National Institutes for Health says affects the eyes and causes abnormalities to the bones in a person's arms and hands. Only a few families worldwide carry the genetic mutation that causes the syndrome.
In order to give Torres a thumb, doctors say they performed a procedure known as pollicization. Dr. Nick Bastidas, the pediatric plastic surgeon who performed the procedure, said he shortened Torres' index finger, then rotated it to the position of a thumb.
While he was doing that, he and other surgeons also lengthened Torres' blood vessels and transferred muscles to create a functional hand.
The April 27 procedure took about 2 1/2 hours to complete.
Bastidas said that the thumb is the most important finger on the hand because it allows humans to grasp and pinch.