One-year-old Brandon Torres doesn’t need his Superman T-shirt to prove that he really does possess incredible strength.
As a result of a condition known as Duane–radial ray syndrome, Brandon was born without a right thumb. One day after his birth, his concerned parents, Yuli Ramirez and Anderson Torres, of Flushing, Queens, met with Nicholas Bastidas, MD, of Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
The Promise of a Solution
After examining their baby, Dr. Bastidas informed Ms. Ramirez and Mr. Torres that he would be able to surgically reconstruct a viable thumb by working with Brandon’s index finger. “Using a technique known as pollicization, I was able to shorten Brandon’s right index finger and rotate it into a new position while, at the same time, lengthening and preserving blood vessels using a microscopic dissection.”
Dr. Bastidas explained that the thumb is the single most important digit in the hand, allowing humans to grasp and pinch.
“This digit is so important,” he said, “that there is a specific area of the brain associated with the task of movement.”
During the three-hour operation in April, Dr. Bastidas transferred all the arteries, veins, muscles and bones of Brandon’s right index finger to create a functional thumb. “All of this was completed without losing any blood by using a tourniquet,” he said.
One month post surgery, Brandon’s little cast was removed. During a media event held at the hospital, his proud parents thanked Dr. Bastidas for creating such a realistic working digit.
“Brandon started occupational therapy to perfect using his new thumb by picking up small objects and establishing fine motor skills,” said Dr. Bastidas. “He’ll be able to engage in all the important activities that little boys enjoy — especially texting.”
Brandon’s parents consider their little Superman to be a true hero. In an emotional statement, Mr. Torres described his admiration for his spirited little boy.
“I decided to stop using my thumb while driving one day — just to experience the world the way Brandon was seeing it,” he said. “After all this fear and worry, my son is strong and healthy. His mother and I are filled with gratitude.”