Baseball player throws again after losing hand in lawnmower accident

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(CLEVELAND CLINIC) – The World Series starts this week and millions of baseball fans are expected to tune in. Luke Brittian is one of those fans who always wanted to play in the big leagues until he lost his hand in a freak accident.

“To me baseball is just a way of life,” said Luke. “The first word I ever said was, ‘ball’. I played all through high school, was eventually able to play college ball, and I played up until the accident.”

The then-22-year-old’s life changed in April of 2019. While mowing on the side of a hill, he slid into a ditch and went face first towards the blade.

“I just kind of had my hand in front of my face to protect it,” said Luke. “I reached down in my pocket for my phone and that’s when I realized my hand wasn’t there.”

An ambulance took Luke to Cleveland Clinic Akron General for a 14-hour surgery to reattach his hand.

The clinical team only had a 6 to 12-hour window to re-establish blood flow.

“He had injuries to his hand and then to every knuckle of every finger,” said William Lanzinger, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “We ended up putting a pin in every finger and every joint. I’m not sure I’ve ever done something like that before, so it kind of speaks to the level of his injury and how traumatic it was.”

The initial surgery was only the first step. Luke had a lot of work ahead of him, especially if he wanted to pitch and play baseball again.

“That’s what I told him before I left that night,” said Dr. Lanzinger. “If you want to throw a baseball, the ball’s in your court. You have to make it from here.”

Luke’s endured painful rehab therapy and five additional surgeries to help restore his hand.

“It’s the 4th quarter mentality where you don’t quit just because it gets hard,” said Luke. That’s where you really show what you’re made of.”

The hard work is paying off. He’s not only able to throw and pitch again, but Luke’s inspiring other kids by coaching baseball at a local high school.

“If you want to be successful, you don’t have a choice,” said Luke. “You have to keep working, and you got to keep pushing through, and I just want to be a living example of that.

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