A man who was seemingly born with nine toes on one foot has had the extra digits surgically removed in what will be a life-changing surgery for him.
The 21-year-old from Lufeng City in southern China, who only revealed his first name as Ajun, was self-conscious about his foot for years, telling the Daily Mail: “I've never had a girlfriend because I'm so imperfect. I never thought I'd find anyone who wants to be with me.”
He shared that his “superstitious” parents wouldn’t let him have the extra toes surgically removed after a fortune teller told them the additional digits were a “good omen,” according to the Daily Mail. However, after becoming an adult, he decided to have the surgery to remove the extra toes.
The condition, in which someone has more than five digits on a single hand or foot, is called polydactyly. According to Boston Children’s Hospital: “During normal embryonic development — while the baby is still in the womb — the hand initially forms in the shape of a paddle, and then — at about the sixth or seventh week of gestation — splits into separate fingers. Polydactyly results if there’s an irregularity in this process: An extra finger forms when a single finger splits in two.”
These additional digits can range from “a small, raised bump to a complete, working finger or toe,” according to Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The extra finger or thumb may be attached only by skin or nerves, or it may have normal parts and be attached to a joint or an extra bone in the hand [or foot],” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Although it’s a rare malformation that people are born with, it’s “one of the most frequent anomalies of the limbs, accounting for 45 percent of congenital foot abnormalities,” according to a large-scale study on polydactyly in the Archives of Plastic Surgery.
For Ajun, he underwent a nine-hour operation where surgeons removed his four excess toes and formed a new big toe, which he had been lacking. Wu Xiang, MD, of Shunde Heping Surgical Hospital in Foshan, China, told the Daily Mail: “It's very rare to see such a serious deformity having not been treated in a 21-year-old patient.”
Xiang added: “His most natural looking toe is on the outside, so we decided to migrate it inwards to its most ideal position, replacing his fifth digit and creating a new big toe.”
Ajun is now healing post-surgery and will be discharged from the hospital in a few weeks, according to the Daily Mail. “Now I feel great,” he told the publication. “I think my foot is perfect. He showed me pictures of my foot after surgery, and I'm very happy.”
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