Pilot who cut hand off in freak accident gets back to work

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 29, 2015) -- A pilot is back in the air, nearly two years after a devastating accident left him with a severed hand.

"I thought we'd be here today," Dr. Kevin Knox said.

That's a confidence most people wouldn't have, looking back on what brought a doctor and a pilot together inside the Indianapolis International Airport.

For starters, the two couldn't even shake hands a couple of years ago.

FOX59 first met Captain Daniel Hudson in August of 2013, his left hand in a splint after he'd cut it entirely off in a home workshop accident. Hudson's wife, Heather, was there and able to rush him and the hand to the emergency room.

"I heard him screaming, stuck my head in the garage and yeah, there was his hand," Heather Hudson said.

Hudson ended up in the very capable hands of Dr. Knox at IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he and his team re-attached the hand because it was such a clean cut.

"The clock's running ... and we have six hours to get it back on," Knox said then.

Fast forward almost two years and you wouldn't know Hudson's hand had once been unattached when you first look at him.

Still, he hasn't regained full feeling and still notices the difference.

"The best way that I can describe it (is) it’s like this hand has a glove on it all the time," Hudson said.

Despite the issues with sensation, Hudson worked with the FAA to get his pilot's license back and began flying again this month.

"I wasn’t sure (I'd get back), but that was my goal, was to return back to flying," Hudson said.

It was a return that led him back to where it all started this past weekend, as one of his passengers on a flight to Newark was the very doctor who made it possible.

"To be able to do this is, I think, (is) just a really cool experience," Dr. Knox said.

Knox was on his way to visit family and figured what better man to have at the controls of his flight than Hudson.

"He did everything we ever asked of him and more. He’s one of my best patients ever," Knox said.

Hudson was a patient with a gift of gratitude - giving Knox his own set of wings before the flight. He said that he's getting used to being back to normal but won't forget what it took to recover from the freak accident. He also had Knox to thank for that.

"Thank you for everything. You gave me my career back," Hudson said.