Jockey's Finger Regenerated, After Horse Chews Off Part of It, With South Florida Doctor's Procedure

Most of Paul Halpern's missing tissue was regrown using pig bladder powder

A New Jersey-based jockey whose horse accidentally chomped on his finger – biting off a third of it – found hope in a relatively new procedure that regenerates tissue, even part of the bone, performed in South Florida.

And it didn't involve an operating room.

"It's a certain powder, a dust that you sprinkle on your finger every other day, you wrap it up and long story short it grew back – the majority of it," said Paul Halpern, who spends part of the year in South Florida, over the phone. "I'm quite happy."

Dr. Eugenio Rodriguez of the Deerfield Beach Outpatient Surgical Center believes he's the first in South Florida to use such technology. The procedure is known as an implantation of a xenograph.

"You have to put powder that is actually the bladder of a pig, it's been pulverized and you apply it over that fingertip,” Rodriguez said.

The treatment is so easy and pain-free, Halpern did it at home over the course of two months. He sprinkled the powder on his wound, mixed a protective sheet with saline and placed it on top, and repeated this process every other day.

"I couldn't notice at the time but once everything had healed and the fingernail grew back, which is quite miraculous, and the skin healed over, then you really notice,” Halpern said.

The science behind it of course is much more complex.

"It stimulates your body to attract your stem cells and then the stem cells start producing the tissue that is missing,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has been using the powder over the last three years to treat more serious wounds that require surgery. He hopes this new kind of application will become mainstream in the near future.

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