Bungling Man Needlessly Cuts Off Finger After Snake Bite

Story ByJohn FengSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyAsia Wire Report

This is the X-ray of a patient who a doctor says “unnecessarily” chopped off his own finger after being bitten by a snake and mistakenly believing he would die in minutes.

Patient Mr Zhang, 60, was working in the mountains in Hangzhou’s Lin’an District, in East China’s Zhejiang Province, when his right index finger was bitten by a member of the notorious viper species Deinagkistrodon acutus.

The snake has the reputation of having venom so deadly it will kill a man in the time it takes to walk five steps and is known in China as ‘wubushe’ – Mandarin for ‘five pacer snake’. However, not all bites are fatal, especially if one seeks medical treatment within six hours.

Picture Credit: AsiaWire

But Mr Zhang was terrified he would die in minutes and took the extreme decision to take a knife and hack off his right index finger in order to spare his own life.

Doctor Yuan Chengda, deputy head of dermatology at Hangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said Mr Zhang came in four hours after the bite with gauze wrapped around his affected finger.

The medic said: “I unwrapped it and discovered he was missing his index finger.”

Mr Zhang then told the doctor: “I chopped it off to save my life.”

Doctor Yuan responded by saying his “ill-informed” stunt was “totally unnecessary”.

To make matters worse, Mr Zhang revealed he did not bring his severed finger with him to hospital, choosing instead to discard it in the mountains where he was working.

The medic was able to treat Mr Zhang’s stump, adding that they “would’ve been able to reattach it” had he brought it with.

Doctor Yuan said: “It was really unnecessary. So-called five-pacer vipers aren’t even that venomous.”

The reputation of Deinagkistrodon acutus venom is greatly exaggerated, leading to fear-inducing names such as five-pacer snake and also ‘hundred pacer’ because of the common misconception that a bite victim would only be able to walk so far before dropping dead.

The hospital has treated roughly 1,200 snake bite victims this year, with around 30 percent of the patients having attempted some dangerous form of self-treatment or other.

Doctor Yuan said: “Some people cut their own fingers and toes; others tie string or wire around their limbs.

“I’ve even seen people burning themselves to counteract the snake venom. By the time they arrive, their limbs are often necrotic.”

The medic said that even the deadliest of snake bites are not likely to be prove fatal as long as victims seek medical attention within six hours.

Social media users have ridiculed Mr Zhang as well as the viper’s reputation for being an almost instant killer.

‘Tiangu’, user on China’s Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo, said: “He’s watched far too many movies.”

‘Shezaixiong’ wrote: “After taking four steps, let the snake bite you again, then you can take another five steps.”

‘Huashan Huli’ added: “Take five paces, then ride a bike.”

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John Feng

I am a senior journalist and editor, and have worked for a number of different news agencies over the last decade. I am currently editor-in-chief of the Asia Wire Report news wire.