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Medicine: First successful double transplantation of both hands in a child


Double transplant: Ten-year-old boy got two donor hands
A ten-year-old boy from the United States lost his hands at the age of two due to blood poisoning caused by bacteria. A year and a half ago, he had two donor hands transplanted. Today the boy can write again with his hands, get dressed and eat independently.

Boy lost his hands due to blood poisoning
"When I was two, my hands had to be cut off because I was sick": According to a report by the "BBC", Zion Harvey described what had happened to him at the age of two. At the time, the child had suffered from blood poisoning caused by bacteria, which among other things led to kidney failure and the loss of hands, parts of the forearms and feet. A year and a half ago, the boy, who was then eight years old, had two donor hands transplanted. Today he can write again with his hands, get dressed and eat independently.

Double hand transplant
As the doctors who carried out the transplant report in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health magazine, the ten-year-old boy from the United States had learned 18 months after the operation to do more with his new hands than before with his stumps .

According to the information, it was not the first hand double transplant - it was in 1998 - but Zion was the youngest patient to have the surgery performed.

According to the doctors, the boy and his brain first had to get used to using the hands after the operation.

The doctor Dr. Sandra Amaral of the Philadelphia Children's Hospital told the BBC that Zion continues to make significant progress.

Transplanted hands grow with the body
"His brain communicates with his hands," explained the chief of the surgical team, Scott Levin, in a YouTube video. "It tells them to move and they move. That alone is remarkable because this part of the brain has been inactive for six years of its life. "

The boy had had a kidney transplant from his mother at the age of four. A double and a half transplantation of the hands finally took place a year and a half ago.

The surgery, which the doctors said lasted 10 hours and 40 minutes, was prepared for two years. From a medical point of view, connecting the small nerves and blood vessels was a particular challenge.

Dr. Benjamin Chang from the surgery said, according to the "BBC": "We really wanted to make sure that these work for our patients and for a lifetime."

In the first year after the operation, doctors feared that the hands would be thrown off the body several times, but optimizing the medication prevented this.

Over time, the boy was able to move his hands better and feel stimuli through his hands. “His perception continues to improve. It’s wonderful, ”says Dr. Amaral.

It should also be emphasized that the hands have grown with the body. Nothing was known about the donor.

Spectacular advances in transplant medicine
The positive course of the double transplant is part of a variety of spectacular operations. Transplantation medicine has generally made tremendous progress in recent years.

For example, successful face transplants have been carried out since 2010.

Two years ago, doctors managed to sensationally transplant a skull cap.

The first penis transplant was carried out in the USA in 2016 and a womb transplant is planned for the first time in Germany.

The plans of an Italian surgeon are even more sensational: he wants to have a head transplant for the first time. (ad)

Author and source information


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