Fitness instructor wounds hand while slicing AVOCADO

The ultimate millennial accident: Fitness instructor severs a nerve and an artery in her hand while slicing an AVOCADO

  • Melissa Norgart, 46, sliced her palm with a four inch blade while making salad
  • As she tried to pry the stone from an avocado the knife slipped into her hand
  • Norgart – a fitness instructor – called an ambulance to her house in Florida  
  • Avocado-related lacerations have become increasingly common doctors say 

A fitness instructor severed a nerve and an artery when she plunged a knife into her hand as she tried to pry the stone out of an avocado.

Melissa Norgart, 46, was horrified when the four inch blade slipped and tore into her flesh as she prepared a salad at home in Sanford, Florida in July last year.

‘It went halfway through my palm. It made a sound like when the killer stabs someone in a horror movie,’ said Norgart.

The phenomenon of ‘avocado hand’ has become so common the British Association of Plastic Surgeons recently called for safety labels to be placed on the fruit.


Melissa Norgart, 46, was cutting an avocado for her salad at home in Sanford, Florida in July last year

Norgart’s hand before the surgery after she accidentally plunged the four inch blade into the palm of her hand under her middle and ring fingers

Norgart, a personal trainer and athlete, was rushed to an urgent care center by her parents where her wound was stitched up and she was sent home.

But the mother-of-two was forced to call an ambulance 45 minutes later when the blood continued seeping through her bandages. 

Dr Anup Patel, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon specializing in hand and upper extremities, says his practice has experienced an increase in knife injuries like Norgart’s in recent years.

Dr Patel said: ‘We would see between five and ten cases of hand injuries caused specifically by avocados every year.

‘In Melissa’s case we repaired a digital nerve in her left hand using microsurgery.

The blade which Norgart was using to pry the stone from the avocado

‘I have worked on cases where people have not only caused significant damage to the nerves and tendons in their hands, but also lost fingers in these types of accidents.’ 

Mother to Kalie, 15, and Blake, 16, Norgart was shocked when X-rays revealed she had sliced an artery and severed a digital nerve, leaving her middle and ring fingers without feeling or movement.

She underwent surgery to graft her damaged nerve back together under the care of plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Patel, of Orlando Hand Surgery Associates.

Norgart said: ‘I was trying to get the seed out and I couldn’t tap it out as usual.

‘I picked it up in my hand and tried to pry it out and the knife went completely through the avocado and into my hand.

‘It was a brand new paring knife and I should have known better. There was so much blood and I couldn’t feel my ring and middle fingers.

‘Luckily I have teenagers so they called my mom and dad and I was able to get to an urgent care clinic quickly. There they just stitched me up and sent me home.

‘I was bleeding out through the wound. My bathroom was like a crime scene.

‘They managed to stop the bleeding but X-rays revealed I had damaged a vital nerve in my hand.’

Norgart was advised by Dr Patel to avoid the gym for five months while she recovered, which she said put pressure on her family financially. 


Norgart’s hand during the surgery (left) and afterwards her parents bought her a new device for avocado cutting (right)

She said: ‘I was out of the gym for five months and that was super depressing.

‘I was just off the back of successful competitions when this happened and then I was in a position where I couldn’t train. I couldn’t even do cardio.

‘I wasn’t even able to take appointments with clients. It was tough financially.

‘My cast covered my hand all the way to my elbow. I was going to physical and occupational therapy for four weeks and my dad had to drive me everywhere like I was a little kid again.’

Almost a year after the accident, Norgart still experiences numbness in her ring finger but feels lucky to have returned to training in January. 

The mom said her kitchen is now equipped with devices to safely handle avocados.

Norgart said: ‘I felt stupid. I should have known better than to stab at it like that when I was in a hurry. 

Norgart at the hospital before she underwent surgery for a severed artery and digital nerve

Norgart’s wounded hand had to be place in a cast after the surgery in July last year

‘My mom and dad have picked up all sorts of contraptions for me, like avocado cutters and safety gloves for cutting.

‘My doctor said he sees so many of these injuries.

‘I still have a numbness in my ring finger, it feels like it has been injected with Novacane you get at the dentist. I am hopeful I will get the feeling back but I might not.’

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