Musician and singer Emma Carpenter had urgent surgery at Addenbrooke's after seriously injuring her hand in a knife accident, severing two tendons and jeopardising her career.

The procedure involved re-joining the tendons at the Ely Hand Unit, part of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), followed by specialist physiotherapy.

Trouble started for the former Newcastle University music student when she travelled to Florida to stay with a friend, with plans to head to New Orleans for a couple of solo gigs, and then Chicago, home to a legendary jazz scene.

However, shortly before departure, she was trying to destone an avocado with a steak knife, when the tip went straight through the stone, into her cupped left hand, and out the other side.

After a trip to a local emergency department and confirmation she had cut through two tendons, Emma booked the earliest plane home, and went straight from the airport to Addenbrooke’s A&E.

She was taken to the plastic surgery department and was operated on the next day by consultant plastic and hand surgeon, Alex Reid, at the Ely Hand Unit.

Ely Standard:  Alex Reid, at the Ely Hand Unit. Alex Reid, at the Ely Hand Unit. (Image: ADDENBROOKE'S HOSPITAL)


Over 63 minutes that would prove crucial for Emma, Alex carefully made an incision, retrieved both severed flexor tendons running through her left index finger, removed scar tissue, and delicately re-joined them, ensuring they still glided smoothly.

Emma, 22, from Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire, has played the flute since 11, the piano since 12 and the guitar since 16.

She said: “I cannot wait to re-launch my musical, singing and acting career.

“The NHS gets a lot of negative press about the time it takes to be seen, but my experience was that the service was immaculate at every stage.

“I was at Ely the very next day and so relieved to be in the hands of Mr Reid, who was so meticulous, reassuring, and absolutely determined to do the very best job for me.

“The occupational therapists in hand therapy were brilliant and very conscious of my need to be able to play musical instruments."