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Man Donates Toes Lost To Frostbite For Famous 'Sourtoe Cocktail'

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A Britain man lost three toes and almost lost half of his foot due to frostbite. Now, he chooses to donate the amputated toes to be a part of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

Toes Lost To Frostbite

Nick Griffiths spent a year training for a 483-kilometer race. However, just 30 hours into the race, Griffiths was forced to quit the competition when a ranger noticed the signs of frostbite on his ear, fingers, and nose.

It wasn't until he was at the hospital that he learned how badly his toes were affected by frostbite. The doctors noticed that his toes were not turning back to its normal color and instead, were turning purple. At that point, they told him that he could lose half of his foot. Still, he was discharged from the hospital after five days of treatment.

However, his toes blistered and turned black in the weeks after he had been discharged, and three of his toes ended up being amputated at the end of March.

Frostbite

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, frostbite is an injury that results from freezing, causing the affected body part to lose feeling and turn black. It most often affects the toes, cheeks, fingers, ears, chin, and toes, and could cause permanent damage to the body. In severe cases, frostbite can even lead to amputation.

In Griffiths's case, the temperatures on the day of the race were as freezing as -40 degrees Celsius.

The initial signs of frostbite is a redness or pain in the affected skin area, followed by numbness, firm or waxy skin texture, and a grayish-yellowish skin hue. Often, the person who is experiencing frostbite does not realize it until someone else points it out, as the skin has already become frozen and numb.

To avoid frostbite, it is important to get out of the cold or to cover exposed skin as soon as possible. Immersing the affected body part in warm water is ideal, and so is warming the body part with body heat.

One must not rub or massage the affected area it as it may cause more damage. It is not suggested either to use heating pads, lamps, or other hot items to warm the skin, as it could cause a burn to the numb area.

Any signs of frostbite must immediately be taken to be evaluated by a health care provider.

The Sourtoe Cocktail

In Griffiths's case, he asked the surgeons to save his amputated toes, which he now keeps in little jars at his home. He intends to send it to the Downtown Hotel for the Sourtoe Cocktail. There, his toes will likely be preserved in salt, just like the other toes they keep for the signature drink and place in the drinks of adventurous drinkers.

The sourtoe cocktail is a Dawson City tradition wherein a preserved human toe is dunked into the customer's drink of choice. The first toe was said to have belonged to a miner who lost his toe to frostbite in the 1920s. However, only seven years after the very first sourtoe cocktail, the toe was lost after a miner accidentally swallowed it.

Several people have donated their toes for the sourtoe cocktail, and while several rules have changed through the years, only one remains the same:

"You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow-but the lips have gotta touch the toe."

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