A Sailor Lost His Hand In A Freak Accident. This Spanish Surgeon Made Him Whole Hours Later

Bullet Points

A 21-year-old U.S. sailor stationed aboard a Navy submarine had his right hand severed during a freak accident, only to have his lost appendage quickly reattached thanks to quick-thinking Spanish military personnel and a renowned local surgeon, the Navy's 6th Fleet told Military Times on Tuesday.


  • The "traumatic amputation" of the sailor's hand occurred on March 27 during what Military Times described as an "at-sea industrial accident" aboard the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia about 70 miles off the coast of Cartagena, Spain.
  • After the sub's medical team stabilized the sailor, he was quickly transported by helicopter to the Hospital de Manises in nearby Valencia thanks to the quick response of the Spanish Coast Guard in conjunction with the search-and-rescue personnel from the country's Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. Spain’s Maritime Rescue agency posted a video of the sailor’s evacuation on YouTube the next day:

  • Dr. Pedro Cavadas, the renowned Spanish reconstructive surgeon known as a "miracle doctor" in the country, managed to reattach the hand using skin graft from the sailor's over the course of the five-hour operation, according to local media outlet ABC. The patient was transferred back to an unidentified military hospital in the United States on April 10.
  • Weeks later, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander Adm. James G. Foggo III thanks Cavadas in person for his efforts. "Due to the timely response by the Spanish rescue personnel and medical team, and because of the seamless teamwork between Spanish assets and U.S. Forces, the patient’s chances for recovery were greatly enhanced,” he said of the incident in a May 4 statement. “The response to this incident is a testament to enduring partnership between the U.S. and Spain, and to the skill and professionalism of the rescue personnel who quickly responded to provide assistance and medical treatment to this Sailor. ”
  • "It seems that normal well trained and motivated people doing routine things, when they come together, can do remarkable things,” quipped Dr. Cavadas. “No man alone can do anything, I have to commend and recognize my team. They are hard workers… and they are the best team ever.”

I'll just leave this here:

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson
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