Last week, Wyoming cowboy Justin Johnson traded in the National Western Stock Show for the hospital after doing something he's done thousands of times before.
In the middle of an event, he roped a steer.
“This time when I pulled back I looked down and the thumb was… not to be graphic but it was completely pulled off,” Johnson said, now at Presbyterian St Luke’s Medical Center.
The digit went flying and Justin's son went after it.
“My son, he went and found my thumb which was still in the thumb part of my glove,” he said.
Packed on ice, the thumb -- and Justin -- ended up in the care of plastic surgeon Dr. David Schnur.
“As that steer or calf is pulling away, that rope constricts down on the thumb and catches it between the horn of the saddle and the thumb and essentially cuts it right off,” Schnur said, who's seen this injury before in ranchers from across Colorado.
After a talk with his patient, Dr. Schnur got right to work.
“We have to sow together little tiny blood vessels to get the blood flow to it,” Schnur said.
He did just that. Justin will lose some feeling in his thumb, but in a few months he'll be back in action one way or another.
“I can't wait to get back. Yeah. I've already thought, if this doesn't become a complete success, how I can handle my rope with my other fingers,” Johnson said.