SEATTLE, Wash. -- A lonely pawnbroker named Sam Sistamata has petitioned a court to have a surgeon cut off his left hand--even though there is no physical reason to do so.
"It is a strange request indeed," said a judge, "but, of course, the man is right-handed, so he would still be able to sign checks."
The request, however, has to do with an age-old disease and how Mr. Sistamata is dealing with having that disease.
In 1908 a German neurologist discovered a disorder that was called Alien Hand Syndrome, or AHS, as it became known to people who did not want to say or write out the disease's entire name.
"What happens," said Dr. Peter Pestostoleen, a specialist in the use of hands, "is a person loses control of his or her hand."
Mr. Sistamata wrote in his court request papers that his left hand is trying "to kill him" and that it was only because his right hand was stronger that he was warding off the attacks.
"My right hand could wrestle the left hand away from my throat as it tries to strangle me," said Sistamata on a morning talk show in Seattle. "And recently it registered for a gun, a hand gun, of course. It is planning to shoot me, maybe in my sleep, when the right hand isn't able to protect me."
The court denied Sistamata's request even after acknowledging that he had AHS.
"We are not about to set a precedent here," said Judge Wally Wippenstoop. "You got to hand it to the guy, though, I mean to say he is trying to go through the proper channels to do this."
There are not many recorded cases of AHS, though a book recently published claimed that the famous entertainer Liberace had AHS for years. The book claimed that Liberace got his violent right hand under control during piano concerts by promising it could play a larger role in his private sex life.
AHS is lethal in dentists, due to the damage they could do to patients while having one renegade hand. There are no recorded cases of dentists with AHS.
A telethon is being organized to raise money to find a cure for AHS.
"This will be a hands-on operation," said one promoter.