The Gift of Thumbs for Connor Woodle

Connor Woodle pic
Connor Woodle

Dr. Bobby Chhabra is an award-winning surgeon specializing in the upper extremities. He has been the Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Virginia (UVA) since 2013 and is the Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He co-founded the UVA Hand Center in 2002. Bobby Chhabra recently performed a surgery on the hands of a boy born without thumbs.

The boy, Connor Woodle, had fully functional fingers but no thumbs. To reshape his hands, he underwent a procedure called digit pollicization. This involves transposing the first finger, changing its position on the hand to where the thumb would be, and reorganizing the corresponding tendons and nerves so that the index finger can be functionally transformed into a thumb.

Very delicate and highly sophisticated, the procedure is best performed on children young enough that their brains are able to reorient to the placement of the finger as a thumb. Connor is already able to use his new thumbs to pick up Cheerios, his favorite snack, and grip onto the slide at the playground. He is adjusting to his new thumbs wonderfully.


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