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-Are you ready for our Ouch! Snips?
What have these two ugly critters got in common?
They may not look very pretty, but these guys are both miracle healers.
First up, this is a leech, and it's a type of worm.
Whereas we only have one brain, a leech has 32.
-And while we have 32 teeth, a leech has 125.
-Their main diet is blood.
And, in fact, right now, I'm providing lunch for this one.
Whilst it's on my arm,
it's going to eat five times its own body weight in my blood.
That's the equivalent of me eating a small cow - hooves and horns
and everything. It's not just greedy - it's disgusting.
But these wrigglers can actually save human lives -
all by sucking our blood.
To get drinking, this leech has bitten me, and now its saliva
is working its way into my veins, releasing a chemical which
will thin my blood, preventing it from clotting.
And it's this ability to get our blood flowing that surgeons
use in modern medicine.
So let's say you chop off the end of your finger.
A surgeon can attach the finger but, if blood clots have formed inside
the bit of dead finger, new blood can't get in and it will fall off.
What doctors can now do is attach a leech to the tip of the finger,
and the same chemicals that allow my blood to
flow into the leech on my arm dissolve the clots
and allow fresh blood to enter the reattached finger.
There's no fancy machine or drug that can do this job
as successfully as a leech.
Well, after an hour and a half on my arm, it's finally full,
and you can see how it's got the blood in my arm flowing.
This is the point. If you've cut your finger off,
if the surgeon's reattached the finger,
it's the chemicals that are now making me bleed that allow
new blood vessels and new blood to flow into the reattached finger.
They may be greedy, they may be frankly disgusting,
but it is that that means they are the most amazing healers.
And you can see how much it's grown. It really is five times bigger.
I got quite attached to that! Literally.
And leeches aren't the only creatures with amazing
healing abilities. Time to meet our next wriggly doctors.
These are maggots. Nice!
Now, you've probably seen maggots before, and these are the same
scary maggots that you see in dead animals and in horror movies.
But there's one really important difference -
these maggots are sterile.
These are superhero maggots.
Being completely germfree means
they can be used in hospitals for a very important job -
to clean dead skin away from large wounds, allowing them to heal.
So these are nice maggots.
In here, there's a foot with a wound with 500 maggots in it.
Let's go see them in action. Not if you're squeamish.
Prepare to look away. But not yet.
This is Ros Thomas.
She's a foot doctor, or podiatrist, and she's going to be tackling this.
It's a foot with a nasty wound on the bottom of it and a sock,
so it's still all right to look.
Maggots have been on the wound for two days,
and now it's time to see what they've done. Get ready, people!
Hopefully, they've had a good feed now.
Hopefully, we'll see a nice clean wound.
Prepare yourself - it can look a bit icky. And there we go.
-Are you looking?
-Cleaned up quite a bit. Not completely.
And they're still quite lively there.
They're our little blind,
legless surgeons that help to clean up all the mucky tissue.
-So they're very precise surgeons?
-They're very precise surgeons, yes.
Take a closer look.
Although they can eat dead flesh, maggots don't have any teeth.
They vomit powerful chemicals onto the wound,
which dissolves dead flesh, and the maggot can then eat
that along with any bacteria that are around.
And that is what makes them perfect wound-cleaning machines.
It's looking so much better than it was originally cos it was
completely covered with yellow mucky tissue.
Yes, it was, but that yellow tissue was all dead flesh.
So although it might look worse now - are you still looking? -
in fact, it's much healthier.
This patient's wound has improved a lot in two days, but don't worry -
the maggots won't eat the healthy flesh, only the dead stuff.
No-one's going to be eaten alive. So that's a relief!
We normally think of maggots as eating rotting things in bins,
but it's this ability to just eat rotten flesh that makes them
such good healers.
Whereas a human surgeon might have to amputate a foot, 500 blind,
tiny, legless surgeons are able to eat only the dead flesh
and therefore save the foot.
It's amazing to think that, even with all the medical research
and technology available, we still can't beat miracle treatment
given by two very strange-looking doctors.
Maybe they aren't so ugly after all.
-See you next time!