8-Year-Old Boy Recipient of World's First Double Hand Transplant

Image courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Image courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

(HealthDay News) — A young Baltimore boy has two new transplanted hands to replace ones he lost to amputation five years ago, his doctors announced Tuesday.

The 8-year-old became the recipient of the world's first double hand transplant performed on a child, following 10 hours of surgery by a 40-person team in early July at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. His hands and feet were amputated when he was 3 years old, following a severe infection that caused his kidneys to fail, said his mother. The kidney failure interrupted blood flow to his hands and feet, prompting the amputation.

The boy received a kidney transplant following his illness, and his body's successful response to immunosuppressive therapy in the years following that surgery paved the way for him to receive his new hands, doctors said.

During the surgery, the hands and forearms from the donor were attached by connecting bone, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tendons, and skin, hospital officials said. The surgical team was divided into four groups operating simultaneously, two focused on the donor limbs and two focused on the recipient. First, doctors connected the forearm bones using steel plates and screws. Next, they used microsurgery to connect the arteries and veins. Once blood flow was established through the reconnected vessels, surgeons sutured together each muscle and tendon, and reattached nerves.

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