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Rylee Ellis received the leech treatment for eight days to help prevent clotting


Twenty tiny leeches have been used to help treat an injured schoolgirl’s finger.

Perth youngster Rylee Ellis nearly lost her finger earlier this year during a boating accident while fishing with her family in Port Kennedy.

“I saw the boat drifting a bit and I put my finger in to pull it and it got caught between the rope and the pole and it tore off,” Rylee said.

Leeches are sometimes used in surgeries where blood is getting into the part but not coming out.
Leeches are sometimes used in surgeries where blood is getting into the part but not coming out. (9News)

When Rylee held up her hand her family saw that her finger was dangling off to the side.

The 12-year-old was rushed to hospital and spent four hours undergoing surgery to save her digit.

Twenty tiny leeches were then used to complete the treatment.

“It’s very rare that we have to use leeches, but we use it in surgeries where blood is getting into the part but not coming out,” Fiona Stanley Hospital plastic surgeon Dr Sharon Chu said.

The leeches can only be used on one patient at a time.

Twenty tiny leeches were then used to complete the treatment.
Twenty tiny leeches were then used to complete the treatment. (9News)

They attach themselves and draw blood, which releases proteins and peptides that thins blood and prevents clotting.

This improves circulation and prevents tissue death.

Rylee had the leech treatment for eight days and has made a full recovery.

“It’s like a little snail going over you. It’s slimy and wet and weird,” Rylee said

Leeches have been used in medicine for centuries as a natural blood thinner.

But supplies to hospitals, such as Fiona Stanley, have been limited due to COVID-19.



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