Mariotti arrived at work expecting it to play out like any other day. He certainly didn’t think it would be the last time he’d be able to make a call or brush his teeth.
Operating the machine he normally used to manufacture plastic cups and plates, the inconceivable happened.
Caught in the middle of two coil rollers, his left hand was ripped to shreds. Not able to free his hand, colleagues hurried to help – but the damage was done.
The skin from most of his hand tore off along with his nerves and veins. The tops of two of his fingers couldn’t be saved, either.
In hospital, doctors told Mariotti his hand would likely be amputated as a result of severe damage to tissue, nerves and veins.
WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS
However, Dr Boris Brandao – an orthopaedic surgeon at Santa Otilla Foundation Hospital – came up with a far more interesting solution, suggesting surgeons sew Mariotti’s mangled hand inside his stomach to help it heal.
Although never having performed the unheard of surgery, Brandao was hopeful it would work. And whadayaknow – the audacious surgeon was right.
Brandao formed a soft tissue pocket inside Mariotti’s abdomen so the back of the factory worker’s hand would fuse with the flesh from his belly.
This also prevented infection and necrosis from growing and helped improve blood supply to the damaged hand, crucial to renovating tissue and muscle.
For six weeks, Mariotti’s hand dwelled in his stomach before it could be detached. For a painful month and a half, he depended on his young son and wife to feed and dress him.
“Every day I reminded myself that I couldn’t take my hand out because it was in a pocket. I was terrified I’d break the stiches and damage my chances of recovery,” he told the Daily Mail.
His hand shape was reconstructed using a skin graft from Mariotti's thigh and a series of surgeries will help him regain use of his fingers.
Despite the long road ahead, Mariotti remains optimistic.
“Now I need to complete the journey, rebuild my life and return to work to support my family,” the positive Brazilian said.
This article was first published on Men's Health.