Cobbler's thumb cut off during shoe accident, replaced by his big toe

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Doctors can do amazing things these days.

After losing his thumb in a horrific shoe repair accident, David Lee thought he was going to lose his job. Fortunately, doctors were able to find a replacement… on his foot.

It was his big toe.

Now, after a long recovery, Lee is cobbling like nothing happened.

“I shouted for someone to ring an ambulance but I couldn’t see how bad it was. I saw my thumb drop on the floor,” David Lee told SWNS.

Lee, a professional cobbler, was trimming the heel of a shoe last January when his hand got snagged in the machine, SWNS reports. The accident reportedly resulted in Lee’s thumb getting severed from his hand.

“I shouted for someone to ring an ambulance, but I couldn’t see how bad it was. I saw my thumb drop on the floor,” he told SWNS. “I had no pain though. I didn’t look initially as I compressed it with my jumper. I calmly turned the machines in the shop off. Straight away, I knew how bad it was and I just worried that I wouldn’t be able to fix shoes again.”

Lee admits that he “cried my eyes out when I thought about it, as I thought I was going to lose my shop. I was more concerned about that than my thumb because this is my passion.”


Amazingly, Lee says that because it happened so fast, he felt “no pain at all” and was able to turn his machines off. He then “went outside for a cigarette while I waited for the ambulance.”

After being taken to a nearby hospital, he was transferred to the Pulvertaft Hand Centre, at Royal Derby Hospital, where doctors suggested using his big toe to replace the thumb. Lee agreed, saying his main concern was his business.

When asked about his new appendage, he said, “It feels heavy having a toe where the thumb should be.”


Now, after recovering from the injury, Lee is back to cobbling and he’s even able to use his toe-thumb to paint shoes, which he says is a hobby of his.

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