The Bradford shopkeeper who had his whole thumb sliced off by a machete has had it successfully re-attached by a top consultant plastic surgeon.

Tasawar Iqbal suffered the appalling injury as he defended himself against five raiders at his Wibsey convenience store last Wednesday night.

He raised his right hand to shield himself from a machete – which cut straight through the v-shaped gap between his thumb and forefinger and down through his wrist bones, totally removing the whole digit.

He was rushed to Bradford Royal Infirmary where consultant plastic surgeon Ajay Mahajan went straight from a seven hour emergency operation on a child and started work on Mr Iqbal at 4am on Thursday.

“The machete blow had severed his entire thumb having entered what we call the first web space between the thumb and first finger,” Mr Mahajan said.

“He had caught the full force of the blade which then went down to the wrist, inside the heel and taking the thumb completely.

“Re-attaching a thumb is more complex than putting a finger back on as it does so much more than the other digits. It does much more flexing and rotation and uses bigger muscles to do so,” said Mr Mahajan, who heads the hospital’s famous Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit.

Micro-surgery which involved re-joining arteries and veins just millimetres in diameter was used in the eight-hour fight to save 39-year-old Mr Iqbal’s thumb.

“The first thing was to put the bones back together to create a structure to build on,” he said.

“Then I joined up the arteries, veins, tendons, nerves, ligaments and muscles.”

Mr Mahajan said the sharpness of the machete’s blade had actually made it an easier task than if the thumb had been ripped off in an accident. It was easier because the tissue and everything had been neatly cut. But the main thing was that the thumb had been properly preserved.

“Firstly it was wrapped in moist gauze, then placed in a sealed plastic bag, then that bag put in another bag of saline, sealed and then placed in ice.”

Amazingly, by Friday Mr Iqbal had already regained some movement.