MADISON, WI – “That’s not my real name, but it works,” stated Jimmy M. Smith, a third-year medical student from UW Madison Medical School. The young man has been a big hit with the surgery service due to his congenital deformity: shoe-horn hands, and has been named “Edward Retractor Hands.”
“My hands have been like this since birth. It creates some issues with writing and sports, but here it seems to be a huge help.” At first the surgical staff weren’t really sure what to do and were pretty concerned about Smith’s ability to help in surgery. Then after a bit of reflection someone made the amazing connection: this guy is a born retractor.
“I looked at his hands and thought, ‘Boy! Those look like Ritch’s,'” commented Steven M. Seagull, MD, his attending surgeon. Normally the seasoned surgeon would dump medical students off on the residents or interns to follow them around for at least a week of the 4-week rotation to avoid having to actually deal with them, but not in this case.
“I took him right to the OR and started showing off his God-awful flippers to the other surgeon,” said Seagull. According to the surgical techs finding gloves for him was a bit of an issue. Eventually they just grabbed two ultrasound probe protectors and slid his hands in. It worked like a dream.
Once Dr. Seagull had his hands in the OR it changed everything. “No longer did I have some student or resident fumbling around with rigid hand held retractors. I now had literally ‘hand retractors!'” It is quite amazing to watch the young man work according to multiple witnesses. “The only issue is he can’t really do much else. Watching him place sutures was like watching animals at Sea World do tricks.”
Sadly, as Smith approaches the end of his rotation he is dreading his next specialty: family medicine. “I’m not really sure how receptive patients will be for pelvic or rectal exams…”