A 20-strong surgical team has reattached the fingers of a Waikato meatworker in a 20-hour operation.

Tamati Parkes, 38, was using a hock cutter at the Silver Fern Farms meatplant at Waitoa on October 4 when he cut through two fingers.

He arrived at Waikato Hospital with his left little and ring fingers hanging on by a bit of skin at the second joint.

Doctors wanted to operate to reattach the fingers.


Mr Parkes wanted them off completely so he could have a cigarette.

"I changed my mind when, after three times of telling them [to cut the skin], they still wanted to save them. I didn't want to waste their time and the money it costs to go into surgery," Mr Parkes said.

The operation team involved five surgeons, five anaesthetists and 10 nurses.

"There was a lot of effort put into this by a lot of people," Consultant Bulent Yaprak, said.

Using microsurgery techniques, they dealt with vessels less than 1mm in diametre.

Part of the little finger didn't make it due to damage and vessel size but Mr Parkes' ring finger should be fine.

It would remained wired in place for the next three to four weeks and he was expected to be back at work in four to five months.

He has also quit smoking.