’I sliced it down to the bone, like a piece of meat’
A WORLD-RENOWNED Queensland chef has cheated death after nearly chopping off his own hand and bleeding out.
Michelin-starred Bruno Loubet, hailed by Jamie Oliver as "one of the most talented chefs on the planet", was making a table for his new cooking school in Willow Vale, on the Gold Coast, when disaster struck.
Loubet, 57, was holding a piece of timber with his left hand, and sawing vigorously at a 45-degree angle with his right when the tool "jumped".
"The saw zigzagged across my left hand, slicing it down to the bone, like a piece of meat, and the first thing I did was to look if I had all my fingers because I thought, shit, if I've cut off a finger I have to pick it up and take it with me."
As blood gushed out, quick-thinking Loubet, who grew up on a farm in Bordeaux in southwest France, raised his arm above his heart and pressed it to his right shoulder to stem the flow.
"I nearly passed out, and if I had, I would have bled out," Loubet recalls. "My body was in shock and buckets of sweat were pouring off me."
A family friend made a tourniquet with a tea towel while Loubet's wife, Catherine, 56, dialled triple-0.
"On the way to Gold Coast University Hospital the ambulance officer phoned ahead and said, 'it's a deep cut but I don't think we have a cut artery'. Myself, I'm thinking, I have a cut artery because I've cut myself a few times as a chef but I've never experienced this."
Loubet said he waited 40 minutes for the wound to be X-rayed after which he was left on a gurney and felt "warm at my back".
"There was blood everywhere; I panicked and called for help. Finally, a nurse took off the bandage and shouted, 'OK, OK, we have a cut artery here', and by the time the doctor came I was thinking, shit, hurry up, I've only got two seconds left to live."
Loubet, who ran the acclaimed Bruno's Tables in Brisbane during the 2000s, had not only severed an artery but also a tendon and nerves.
Transferred to Gold Coast Private Hospital, he underwent a four-hour operation by orthopaedic surgeon Randy Bindra.
Eight months later, Loubet's hand is remarkably back to normal.
"Doctors have told me I am lucky to be alive, but I refused to let this injury defeat me."