Stanley with his mother Helen Wood. On February 14, his rubber footwear got caught in the edge of an escalator at a hotel in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A five-year old boy who was on a holiday in Dubai lost his big toe when his foot got stuck in an escalator at a hotel, doctors and parents said on Monday.

The incident on February 14 happened when his rubber footwear got caught into the edge of an escalator at the hotel where the British family was staying. He was rushed into emergency to salvage a portion of his toe, officials from Al Zahra Hospital, Al Barsha said.

Stanley Wood, came to to Dubai on February 9 with his parents Helen and Ben Wood and his 7-year-old sister. The family was here to celebrate Stanley’s fifth birthday that falls on February 23.

The injury was so horrific that the entire plantar ligament that begins in the calf muscle and ends at the big toe was pulled out along with a bit of muscle attached to it while the big toe was sliced off and the bone below was exposed, a doctor said.

When the boy was pulled out at the bottom of the escalator, his foot was badly injured with the skin stripped out along with the long plantar tendon. The severed toe was so mangled that it could not be re-attached. The family rushed their child to Al Zahra Hospital where a surgery was done by Dr Mohan Rangaswamy, a plastic surgeon. The surgeon covered his exposed bone with soft tissue flap from the injured area and skin graft from the thigh. This surgery will help the child at least have half a toe. The child will require subsequent surgeries in the next three months to make him more stable, Dr Rangswamy said.

“The big toe has two bones with a joint. The piece that went off included the nail and the tendon that was at the bottom and top surface for flexing and extension. The entire tendon got pulled out right up to the calf muscle as the force of the machine was so strong. We needed to cover the open wound with a flap. The patient was left with a bone sticking out and a large wound, it was trauma situation and this was an avulsion wound where most of the tissues were injured at different levels,” he added.

The mother and son have had to stay back for recuperation while the father and daughter flew back home.

After the incident, Stanley’s mother Helen Wood has launched an awareness campaign on her Facebook page, alerting other parents to the danger of soft rubber sandals. “Our holiday turned into a nightmare and it all happened so quickly giving us hardly any time to react. We thought wearing these soft closed rubber sandals was safer for kids as it protected the feet. However, when Stanley lost his toe, we realised that we are not the only parents dealing with this and there have been several lawsuits against a famous company that produces these colourful, soft rubber sandals that kids love so much. I will go back to UK and launch an awareness campaign to caution all parents and save our little children from such a horrific injury,” she told Gulf News on Monday.

A quick web search about soft rubber sandals revealed several lawsuits filed against branded rubber sandal companies, particularly in the US, about similar accidents and a study has claimed that the footwear is unsafe.

For example, in 2012, a couple from Westminster, California, sued a branded rubber sandals company for $2 million (Dh7.2 million) when their four-year-old daughter’s pink sandals got caught in an escalator; she lost her little toe. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, a woman filed a $7.5 million (Dh27 million) suit after her child was involved in an accident in 2008.

A consumer safety product commission in United States revealed that one soft rubber foot wear company had received 186 such cases of children wearing rubber footwear and were involved in escalator injuries.

A 2010 study in The Journal of Paediatric Orthopedics looked at 17 children with escalator-related foot injuries in one hospital over two years; 13 of those were wearing rubber clogs. One of those had “an unsalvageable traumatic amputation of the great toe at the level of the interphalangeal joint,” and others had fractures, lacerations and cut tendons. The study’s conclusion: “Escalator-related foot injuries involving rubber clogs can result in severe crushing of the foot and even traumatic amputation.”