The day my baby boy’s finger almost got cut off by a slamming door
This mum describes one of the most harrowing moments in her parenting life...
I still remember that night clearly.
My youngest was just four weeks old and my oldest boy, 2.5 years old. My husband was getting ready to head overseas on a business trip. While he was attending to last minute packing, my older boy was hovering around him, getting in the way, and asking toddler questions.
I was nursing my youngest in another room when I heard a loud bang. I didn’t take much notice of it until I heard my older son wailing loudly. Immediately, I went out to see what had happened.
There he was, a sight that is etched in my memory forever. My older boy, pale as a ghost, dripping blood like a leaking tap from his hand. He was screaming in pain.
My toddler’s finger almost got cut off
At that point I didn’t know what the injury was. I handed over my newborn to the helper, and asked my husband what had happened. He said the door had slammed on our son’s finger.
I took a closer look at my boy’s hand and almost passed out at the sight of the top digit of his little finger hanging off literally by a shred of skin. His finger had got caught between the blunt edge of the door (attached to the hinge) and the wall, and the force of the slam almost severed it.
At that moment in time, we could not think clearly. But I did have the presence of mind to wrap his little finger tightly with a clean bandage and hold his hand up to try and stop the bleeding.
We rushed our boy to Parkway East Hospital. I had to leave my 4 week old son at home with our brand new helper, but what else could I do? By the time the taxi reached the hospital, my older boy had stopped crying and was very quiet. In hindsight, we think he may have gone into mild shock.
At the hospital, they took a few x-rays and called in a specialist. My boy’s finger was examined again and the doctor said he would have to operate it in order to reattach it, as it was really just hanging by a shred of tissue.
What this meant was that my little boy would have to go under full anesthesia in order for the surgeon to sew his little finger back in place.
The next few hours while the operation was underway were the longest hours in my life.
I have never been so worried. All kinds of horrible thoughts were running through my head, from those related to the ill-effects of anesthesia in young children, to what was going on with my newborn back home.
Thankfully, my worries were unaccounted for. All went well and our little boy’s tiny digit was firmly re-attached by the wonderful surgeon. He came out of sedation just fine too, and even asked for an egg sandwich!
Because he was so young, his whole hand had to be bandaged (as you can see in the picture) so that the finger could heal properly. We had to take him to the clinic every week for a month for the dressing to be changed and for the doctor to check that the finger was healing properly – which it did.
Now, you can’t see much damage at all on the finger, except for a very faint line and the finger is slightly misshapen.
But, mums and dads, the purpose of me sharing this story is to remind you of some really important lessons in safety for kids in your homes, and also, what you should do if this happens to your child.
Door slam injuries in kids: Lessons learned and safety tips
According to a BBC article, door-crush injuries sustained to children’s fingers can be very painful and the repercussions sometimes lifelong. At the same time, such incidents are really common. In the UK, about 30,000 children trap their fingers in doors each year and more than 1,500 of them need surgery.
The British Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons says door-crush injuries in some cases could lead to amputation and long-term pain.
Also, self-shutting fire safety doors, car doors and hinges are the top three causes of finger and hand injuries in children.
So what can you do to prevent such injuries from happening?
- Parents must fit safety catches/ hinge protectors on all doors at home.
- Use door wedges for when the door is kept open.
- Do not allow your little one to open and shut the car door.
- Be aware of where little fingers are placed. Kids’ fingers are small enough to slip through the gap between the hinge side of the door and the wall, and because this is well below your eye level, you won’t notice this until it’s too late.
What should you do if a door slams shut on your child’s finger?
- If the child’s finger is bleeding, wash it gently with soap and water and use a soft, sterile dressing to dress it.
- If it’s just a bruise, an ice pack can help minimise swelling and pain.
- Watch for signs of pain, sudden swelling, redness or fever 24 to 72 hours after the accident. These could be signs of infection and you should call your paediatrician without delay.
- Never try to straighten a bent or crooked finger as your child may have sustained a fracture. Medical attention is needed in this case.
If the child’s fingertip is completely cut off, this is what you need to do (according to Orthopaedic experts):
- Gently clean the amputated part with water or, if possible, with sterile saline solution.
- Cover it in a moistened gauze wrap.
- Place it in a watertight bag.
- Place the bag on ice in a sealed container or another watertight bag.
- Do not allow the amputated part to be in direct contact with ice. You could damage it further.
Bring the amputated part with you to the emergency room and keep it with you until the doctor sees you.
Keep your little ones safe at home, mums and dads! Have you had a similar experience? Do share it with us!