Model plane enthusiast claims magic powder helped him regrow finger

finger-regrown.jpg

Lee Spievak, RC flight enthusiast, knew something was wrong from the very moment his model plane loop-de-looped in the crisp spring air. The controls were unresponsive; it was as if the plane had a mind of its own. As the tiny toy flying machine dive-bombed towards him with the ruthlessness of a bird-of-prey, its propellor blades flashing like silver talons, Lee remembered a seemingly random event with the sudden clarity of newly forged associative connection. It was only yesterday that he had cut the side of his palm. Suddenly, Lee knew what was wrong: that model plane had tasted human blood. Worse? It wanted more. Knowing full-well that if he ran he would be chased down, Lee steeled himself, shielded his face with his hands. His finger slid through the plane’s blood-thirsting teeth and out the other side. His finger tip was gone, chewed up by a propellor and digested into a slurry.

It’s a terrible thing to lose part of a finger, but luckily, Lee had a connection: his brother, Alan, a shaman of regenerative medicine, who sent him a small packet of “pixie dust.” Like all good hoo-doo, the dust had comes from the remains of an animal: in this case, a pig’s bladder scraped of its lining. The resulting cells are formed into a cellular matrix which, placed on a wound, stimulates cells to grow rather than scar. Applying the powder liberally for a month, Lee claims he was able to grow the end of his finger back… an application that has obvious promise for helping people to re-grow skin, tissue, limbs or even organs.

Unfortunately, it seems like Lee might be full of it. His finger does appear to have been badly sliced, the tip lopped off, but the before-and-after pictures make clear that he lost neither bone nor nail. The pixie dust was likely nothing more than a psychological placebo, making Lee think the body’s normal healing process was miraculous. Which, of course, it is. But restoring a bit of flesh on the tip of a model plane enthusiast’s finger is a far cry from re-growing the amputated limbs of Iraq war veterans.

The man who grew a finger [BBC]

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9 Responses to Model plane enthusiast claims magic powder helped him regrow finger

  1. jennfrank says:

    You’re just jealous of Wolverine.

  2. Umpqua says:

    On January 22nd, I sliced off two finger tips while using a vegetable mandolin. My tips have grown back with “minimal defect” (as the doc said), and the only magic powder I used was QR Powder to stop the profuse bleeding.

    I can’t recommend that stuff highly enough. It *instantly* stopped my bleeding, even the nurses and doctor were impressed my it.

  3. thornae says:

    I have had pretty much exactly this wound, from a circular saw.
    If you’re not of a queasy disposition, you can see the pictures.
    For those of you not wanting to look at the gore, the top of my finger was sliced diagonally off, nicking the bone and taking about a third of the nail with it.

    Within a few months, it had mostly grown back, and three years on, my finger is completely healed. The nail grows a little oddly, but you’d have to look pretty closely to see the difference.

    I was skeptical when I first heard this story, and I’m not any more impressed this time ’round.

  4. wastrel says:

    Yeah, my father-in-law cut off the tip of his finger slicing vegetables. From what I can see, the wound was similar in severity to Mr. Spievak’s.

    His finger tip grew back without the need for magic pig bladder powder.

    By all means do a study, but remember the old saying: anecdotal evidence is neither.

  5. John Brownlee says:

    Who isn’t? Those mutton chops! What a dreamboat!

  6. robofunk says:

    I don’t think Wired Science (the PBS science magazine) thought it was bull when they did a story about it last year.

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/multimedia/2007/10/body_builders

  7. batu b says:

    In a recent issue of Scientific American, there was a great article on limb regeneration:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=regrowing-human-limbs
    In fact, the tip of your finger actually follows similar principles of regrowth that a salamander’s entire arm or leg does. So the man’s claim is not entirely far fetched, however, no magic powder needed, except, perhaps to keep it clear of infection.

  8. jbang says:

    Not wanting to be a “saw it there, like, twenty years ago” troll… but this story popped up about a month ago on BoingBoing, and even carried all the way to local news (in Australia), as well as US Network TV that gets played late night / early morning.

    But for some reason… here it is again, on US Network news beamed to Au, and local / national news. I’m really curious what has driven every news agency I access to not just replay, but totally re-do this story over, with the same information, footage etc – is that a second wave of the blogospehere has started to run with it? Or has the internet corroded everyone’s memory that badly?

    More on topic: this is amazing tech, and the CBS (?) story I watched showed labs where they were growing replacement bladders and heart valves grown from this ‘extra-cellular matrix’. Incredible stuff.

  9. Christopher says:

    Nope, not bull. I read about this guy a month ago (kinda late to the show, Joel ;)

    It’s on the up and up, from all the other medical articles I read after that. I have to say, I’m more than a little intrigued, and would love to talk my boss into running some experiments with this stuff. (I work on the periphery of medical research.)

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