A 32-year-old man who was born without a left hand received one, harvested from a deceased donor, in a surgery claimed to be the world’s first hand transplantation of this kind.
The procedure, which was performed at the Wroclaw Medical University Hospital in Poland, lasted for 13 hours. The surgeons successfully attached a left hand to the patient’s left arm. This feat is a world’s first as previous hand transplantation surgeries were performed on patients who lost the appendage some time in their lives, meaning those patients were originally born with both hands.
The patient has lived for 32 years without his left hand.
The bones in the donor’s hands were attached to the patient’s bones using titanium plates and screws. The most vital tendons and muscles were then connected, followed by the blood vessels. Once blood flow was established, the rest of the structures were attached.
Dr. Adam Domanasiewicz, the lead surgeon, said:
“It is the first graft in the world of an upper limb onto an adult with this congenital defect. We are talking about a man who lived 32 years without this member.
“This is an important breakthrough in neurophysiology and the practice of transplants because up to now it was thought that – in the case of this type of congenital defect – such grafts could not be done.”
“We were dealing with entirely different anatomical structures, blood vessels, nerves, muscles and tendons, of which the donor had more than the recipient,” said Domanasiewicz.
The unnamed patient can now move his fingers. Surgeons are optimistic that in time, the patient will gain strength and dexterity in his new hand.
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