A FRIENDLY game of football with the lads turned into a nightmare for Samuel Bowles who went to retrieve a lost ball and ended up losing his finger in a freak accident instead.
Samuel, 25 and from Coventry, scaled an eight foot a fence to get the ball back during a five-a-side footie match.
But his wedding ring got caught on the wire mesh as he jumped off – ripping his finger right off and leaving him in agony.
His quick-thinking friends, including one who is a doctor, quickly rushed to the scene, stemmed the blood flow and grabbed the missing finger, putting it in ice in the hope it could be sewn back on.
Samuel’s wife Sarah, 28 – with whom he has a 10-month-old son named Marley – rushed to his bedside as medics fought to save his finger.
Their efforts were to no avail, however, as the finger was too mangled to be re-attached.
Recalling the life-changing moments, Samuel said: “The ball had been kicked over the fence – but rather than walk around to fetch it, which can take a while, I decided to just hop over as I didn’t want to be out of play for too long.
“I sat on the top with my left hand on the fence, then jumped.
“When I landed I felt a bit of pain, and thought I’d maybe scratched or cut myself – but when I looked down I saw all the blood spurting out of my finger and squirting into my face and eyes, it was like a water gun.
“Even then I didn’t fully realise what had happened – I felt the warmth of the blood on my face and went to grab my finger to stem the bleed.
“But it wasn’t there.
“It was very surreal – I shouted to the lads, ‘I’ve lost my finger’.
“They all started screaming in absolute shock – it was like a horror movie.”
Medics pumped Samuel, a mature student at the University of Warwick, with painkillers as they cleaned his mangled finger, before taking him for an x-ray to see if it could be saved.
But doctors weren’t able to save Samuel’s finger due to the extraordinary amount of damage, meaning he is now left with a stump ending just above the knuckle.
Incredibly, he was awake for the entirety of the hour-and-a-half surgery, and watched in amazement as medics filed and sawed away at his gory digit.
He added: “The enormity of what happened did start to hit me – I’d just gone out to play football and something had happened that was going to drastically change my life.
“Sarah had a bit of a cry and gave me a hug when I first saw her, but she was really strong and told me we’d get through it together.”
Despite the excruciating trauma, Samuel is trying to remain positive and is encouraging friends to start referring to him by his new nickname – Four-Fingered Bowles.
“I’ve found the best way of dealing with it is to have a bit of a laugh,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people supporting me by sending me pictures with their finger bent back, and a lot of finger-related nicknames.”