The Auckland carpenter accidentally sliced off his left thumb with a saw while working on a piece of furniture.
“I started cutting this little bit of wood and the saw kicked back. I didn’t realise at the time, but it had taken my whole thumb off,” Mr Carter told the New Zealand Herald.
He was rushed to hospital by his elderly aunt and uncle, who found the sliced-off thumb at the end of the driveway where Mr Carter had been working.
Surgeons examined an X-ray of his thumb and suggested chopping off one of his toes to replace his missing thumb. However, he didn’t meet the criteria for that procedure so they opted for a different option.
“They picked me up for surgery the next morning, and I wasn’t really told a lot about what they were going to do to salvage my thumb,” he said.
Five hours later, he woke up from an operation like no other.
“I got the fright of my life when I woke up and I went to scratch my face but couldn’t because my thumb was attached just to the left of my man products,” Mr Carter said.
“It’s one of those things your brain just can’t comprehend. No one told me that’s what was happening, so I asked the doctor what’s going on.”
According to the surgeon, the groin was the best place for a skin graft.
The procedure – known as pedicled groin flap – involved cutting a rectangular piece of skin from a portion of his groin and using it to cover the top of his remaining thumb.
Mr Carter’s thumb was then sewn in place on his groin and it stayed there for about a month until the tissue attached itself to his thumb. Then doctors remove the stitches to separate the thumb.
“I was a bit of a novelty, really. As the surgery hadn’t been done in a long time, every new nurse would be turning up asking to see it,” he said.
Mr Carter spent three weeks in hospital and one week resting at home before his stitches were removed.
“I was just living in a T-shirt with the side cut out of it for about a month because I couldn’t wear anything else,”
He said although his half thumb had healed, it now grows pubic hair.
“It’s the gift that just keeps giving.”