Liu Lichun cares for her son, Li Jinpeng, after a successful operation to remove his extra fingers and toes on Tuesday. Li Gang / Xinhua
Six-year-old boy told he will be able to hold chopsticks in a few months
Shenyang, Liaoning - Li Jinpeng, a 6-year-old boy born with 15 fingers and 16 toes, is happy he will soon be able to wear a normal pair of shoes.
Doctors at the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning province, successfully removed Li's additional fingers and toes in a surgical operation that lasted more than five hours on Tuesday.
Before the surgery, Li, the son of migrant workers from Heilongjiang province, was believed to be the world record holder for having the maximum number of fingers and toes.
He is not the least bit sad at losing the record to two Indians, Pranamya Menaria and Devendra Harne, who each have 12 fingers and 13 toes.
Li was happier to hear doctors tell him he would be able to eat with chopsticks in a few months' time.
Tian Lijie, director of microsurgery at the Shengjing Hospital, who led the surgical team, said the operation, which started at 10 am and ended at 3:20 pm, went well and Li now has 10 fingers and 10 toes.
"The functions (of the boy's fingers) will not be affected and he will be able to live a normal life," Tian told China Daily on Wednesday.
Explaining the surgical procedure, Tian said: "It just took a few hours to trim the neurovascular bundles and the surgery was completed with microvessel clamps."
The doctor said Li had survived the critical stage and is now in a stable condition.
"His dressing will be changed in three days and he will be able to go back home in a week," Tian said, adding, "His rehabilitation training will begin in a month, when he will be able to do basic hand movements like pinch and grip."
According to Tian, the cause of Li's deformity could be several factors like "genetic, genetic mutation, or problems during pregnancy", but doctors do not know for sure.
However, Li's parents, who work in Yingkou, Liaoning province, said no one from their families had ever had such a problem.
"We were obviously stunned when Li was born with all those fingers and toes. I was crying the whole day after the delivery," Li's mother, Liu Lichun told local media.
Liu added she was embarrassed to take her son outdoors, because so many people would look at him strangely or make comments about his deformity.
Liu said she and her husband took Li, who had seven fingers on his left hand, eight on his right and eight toes on each foot, to several doctors, all of whom advised them to wait until he grew a little older before having surgery.
The couple now cannot wait to enroll Li in school.
"We didn't let him go to school before out of pity," said Li's father.
Prior to the surgery, Li told reporters: "I want to wear a pair of normal shoes, too, but they pinch my toes."
He said he had always worn slippers to give his extra-broad feet some space to breathe.
He also could not hold a pencil normally. He used to hold it between the second and third finger of his right hand.
"My friends treat me differently at kindergarten. They call me a monster. They beat me and scratch me," Li said before his surgery.
Now things are different. And Li knows it.
(China Daily 03/25/2010 page5)