Delray Beach Doctor Grows Patient's Finger Back After Horse Bit It Off

There's a miracle worker in Delray Beach, a wizard in a white robe who can make make appendages grow back like an amphibian.

His name is Eugenio Rodriguez, a surgeon schooled at the University of Puerto Rico, who just made a jockey's finger grow back.

Several weeks ago, jockey Paul Halpern was feeding his horse when his hand got a little too close and the horse ripped off a full third of the digit. This represented a troubling development, so Halpern -- as seems to be the general thing to do in such a condition -- plopped the finger in some ice and rushed to the doctor to have it reattached.

But the doctors said it was no good. CBS Miami reports they wanted him to amputate the whole thing.

Instead, Rodriguez had a different idea. What CBS Miami refers to as "advanced, cutting-edge, and without any surgery or amputation" is actually called xenograft implantation. And it has a pretty interesting history.

It involves the transplant of another species' tissue into the human body to assist with the regeneration of an organ or appendage.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the first example of a xenograft implantation occurred in 1984, when an American infant girl named Baby Fae came down with a heart ailment called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In Loma Linda, California, a doctor settled a baboon heart inside her chest. She died 21 days later, because her blood type didn't match the baboon's.

Thirty years later, Halpern was a tad more successful. Using the bladder tissue of a pig, Rodriguez constructed a template around the wounded finger and waited. Eventually, as weeks passed, the finger -- even the nail! -- grew back into the mold.

"I'm really grateful. I think it's fantastic," Halpern told CBS Miami. "I think in the future there's going to be other uses for it, but it wasn't a life-threatening injury to me; it was something that was an accident."

Hooray for science!

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