Scots guitarist’s arm ‘hanging by a thread’ after horror electric saw accident in Dundee

A Scots guitarist who has worked with some of Scotland’s top bands has described the moment his arm was nearly severed in a horror workplace accident.

Keith Matheson thought he was going to die after the terrifying incident at a primary school in Broughty Ferry earlier this month.

His jumper caught in a spinning circular saw blade and pulled his left arm into it, slicing through just below the elbow.

The limb – which he uses to make chords on his guitar – was left hanging by a thread of skin and tendon and was pointing in the wrong direction.

It was only because of the quick thinking of two school employees that he survived the ordeal and made it to hospital where a top team of surgeons battled for 28-hours to reattach his arm.

Speaking to Dundee Live from his bed in the city’s Ninewells Hospital, Keith said: “I can’t thank the team of surgeons enough for saving my arm.

“They worked for a total of 28 hours to reattach it and ultimately save my life.”

And fighting back tears he added: “Just before I went under, I begged them to try and save it, but I feared the worse.

“I thought that when I came around after the operation there would be nothing there. It was my worst nightmare.

“But they have worked absolute miracles for me.”

Keith now has a tiny bit of movement in two of his fingers.

Keith is well known on the Scottish music scene and has worked extensively with members of Simple Minds and Deacon Blue.

The 58-year-old dad-of-two was building wooden planters at Forthill Primary School on 4th April when the incident happened.

His arm was almost torn off in less than a ‘tenth of a second’.

When he looked down it was pointing in the wrong direction and was only held on by a thin piece of skin.

Keith has worked with members of Simple Minds and Deacon Blue.
Keith has worked with members of Simple Minds and Deacon Blue.

Two school employees helped him and called the emergency services.

They tied a tourniquet to stem the bloodflow and tried to keep him calm until paramedics arrived.

Keith added: “Those two people saved my life – no doubt about it. I would have bled out if they hadn’t been there.

“They stopped the bleeding and called for an ambulance.

“My arm looked like just a stump below the elbow.”

Forthill Primary School
The accident happened at Forthill Primary School, in Broughty Ferry.

A team of at least four different specialist surgeons worked in shifts to save his arm.

Some worked to reattach muscles and tendons, others to reset his bones, another group worked on blood vessels while a fourth concentrated on nerves.

They worked in shifts, first for 18-hours, then a second stint of 10 hours to reattach it.

Keith said he now has a tiny bit of movement in two of his fingers but there is still a huge way to go.

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He added: “My left hand is my chord hand on the guitar so it couldn’t be much worse.

“There’s a huge way to go with rehab.”

Despite the grim prognosis Keith is remaining extremely positive.

Keith has remained very positive throughout the order.
Keith has remained very positive throughout the order.

He said: “I don’t think I’ll ever play the guitar again but there are other ways to make music.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of using a synthesiser a lot more and will have to be a bit more imaginative.

“I’m bringing an album out before the end of the year and a lot of my old friends have offered help.

“Things could be a lot worse and there’s lots to be hopeful and thankful for.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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