Doctors say a man in China hacked off his own finger after he was bitten by a snake that he believed was highly venomous. The man, identified as a 60-year-old named Zhang, reportedly claimed he was bitten on his index finger by a Deinagkistrodon acutus while working in the mountains.
The man reportedly believed he was saving his own life, but his doctor blasted the move as “really unnecessary.”
The species is found in Southeastern China, as well as northern Vietnam and parts of Taiwan, and typically prefers shaded habitats in forests, or among rocks in valley streams, according to Animal Diversity Web.
While its venom can injure humans, it has also been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and pain in tendons and bones. Not all bites are fatal, but the man allegedly heard that death could be instant so he cut his finger off with his knife, according to AsiaWire.
“I chopped it off to save my life,” he allegedly told his doctor, Yuan Chengda.
Chengda, head of dermatology at Hangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said the man’s actions were “really unnecessary” and that they likely could have reattached his finger had the man brought it with him.
“Some people cut their own fingers and toes; others tie string or wire around their limbs,” Chengda told AsiaWire of misinformed snakebite patients. “I’ve even seen people burning themselves to counteract the snake venom. By the time they arrive, their limbs are often necrotic.”
Chengda said that many patients are wrongly under the impression that death will be instant after the bite. In the majority of cases, as long as treatment is administered in under six hours, the bites shouldn’t be fatal.