[Video below.] A burn victim has been given a new pair of hands in the U.S in a rare double transplant. Doctors say the man will have more feeling in his fingers than previous hand transplant patients because he had his original hands before the operation.The 18-hour operation took place yesterday at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, where the world’s first successful single hand transplant was performed in 1999.
A team of six hand surgeons, one anaesthetist, one nurse and five extra medical staff worked on the unidentified patient on a rotating basis.
Lead surgeon Dr Warren Breidenbach said doctors were able to put some of the patient’s existing nerves into hands from a donor.
Another doctor outside the operating theatre posted more than 60 updates on the social networking website Twitter during the marathon surgery.
The first Tweet was at 12.25am, which read: ‘Patient excited for new hands but we know there is a donor family facing a time of sadness. We are grateful for their generosity.’
The patient’s hands had been so badly damaged he struggled to perform simple tasks such as take his keys out of his pocket.
Surgeons removed non-functioning hand tissue from the patient in preparation for the donor hands and five hours later had attached the bones of the new hands to the patient with plates and screws.
‘Surgeons are now preparing the arteries. This will be the most important part of the operation,’ the doctors tweeted at 6.36am.
Once the arteries and veins were attached the team complete nerve repairs before sewing the new appendages shut and bandaging them up. They finished around 8.30pm.
The team expect the wounds to take about six weeks to heal but said it will be several months before any sensation returns to the hands.
As with any transplant, there is a risk of rejection and the patient will need to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.
But Marty Bonick, president of the Jewish Hospital Medical Campus, said the patient’s spouse was thrilled that the surgery had gone ahead.
‘They were hoping and praying for it to happen,’ Mr Bonick said.
Doctors said the patient is expected to spend about three months in Louisville recovering and undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
Click below for a video report:
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