UnNews:Red Cross hosts annual finger drive

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6 July 2011

Five fingers
Because high-3s just don't cut it.

CHICAGO, Illinois -- Yesterday, for the 35th year in a row, the Red Cross hosted it's annual 5th of July Finger Drive for the benefit of all those who didn't know how to light their fireworks properly.

"We need all kinds of fingers," spokeswoman and regional organizer Cheryl Brown said, "African-American, Indian, Caucasian... you name it, we need it. This year was an unfortunate year for a great many people."

An estimated 8,600 people are injured by fireworks every year and, while many of these injuries are non-fatal, they frequently involve trips to the emergency room for treatment of high-degree burns and missing fingers. And while skin can be replaced, many of these dismembered digits, however, cannot be sewn back to their original position because they are either too badly mangled, burned to oblivion, or simply cannot be found.

"The gunpowder in fireworks can carry a surprisingly large punch," Dr. Michael Burton, of St. Anthony's Hospital in Chicago, said, "Many times it's enough to blow the finger completely off the hand and then over 50 yards away. People don't think to look that far in the chaos after an accident like that has occurred, so the finger remains unfound until it's discovered by a boy, playing in the park weeks later, with a water-pistol in one hand and with dreams of becoming..." he added, trailing off and standing there, awkwardly, clutching his hands together in a death grip.

And that's where the Red Cross' drive comes in. People suffering from a permanently missing pointer after being Roman Candled are automatically put in the database of regional hospitals as being on the market for another digit. Their skin tone, finger size - both length and girth - and which hand is missing a few is recorded, and the July Finger Drive targets potential donors with the specific finger makeup. Then it's up to the generosity of the public to come through.

"Taking into account the nature of what we're asking people to do at these drives, they are very generous," Brown told us. She then went on to describe the psychological disorder of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), which makes people feel as if they would be happier if they were missing appendages. However, she stressed that the Red Cross is, in no way, shape or form, encouraging such a psychological neurosis, cannot be held liable for people volunteering to donate their body parts, and does not target the sufferers of BIID for their drives.

"We also go to great lengths to make the operation a comfortable one," she went on, changing the subject, "and provide, completely free of charge, localized anesthesia and access to the region's top surgeons during the procedure. We even give donors a great I have nine and I'm feeling fine! sticker on their way out."

Drives like these are lifesavers for people like Duane Hankings, a 34 year-old computer programmer from nearby Elmhurst, Illinois. He was lighting fireworks at a family picnic when disaster struck. "I didn't know what I was doing - usually my brother comes to these picnics and he does the fireworks, but he wasn't there so I had to do it all. Something went wrong, the fuse went too quick or something and the thing went off before I could put it down. It burned my hand and blew my index finger clear across the yard, where my dog found it and choked to death on it while we were in the ER." Despite having excellent insurance, a reattachment wasn't possible because of the finger's relocation to Bowser's colon, putting Duane in a tough position; he suddenly had an extremely debilitating injury and worked a job that required him to type at a pace of at least 40 words-per-minute for up to 5 hours a day. But Red Cross' July Finger Drive came to the rescue, finding a perfect donor and giving him a whole new finger in under 36 hours.

"We have hundreds of great stories like Duane's come from our little drive," Mrs. Brown boasted, "And while we'd like to stress that donating a finger is a huge decision, we'd also point out that we even had cases where people have given multiple fingers, and we even have a couple of repeat customers at our drive."

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