Britain's first hand transplant a success

Jan. 4, 2013 at 2:27 PM
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LEEDS, England, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A British grandfather receiving the country's first hand transplant says he has already gained movement of his fingers following the operation.

Former pub owner Mark Cahill, 51, received the new hand to replace a right hand left unusable for five years because of gout and a subsequent infection. Surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary amputated the functionless hand and replaced it with a donor hand Dec. 27 in an 8-hour procedure, The Daily Telegraph reported.

It was the first time surgeons have carried out a hand amputation simultaneously with a transplant from a donor.

"The operation has changed my life," Cahill said.

"Before the op, I couldn't tie my own shoes, do up the buttons on my shirt, cut up my own dinner or play with my grandson's toys with him -- hopefully I'll be able to do all these things now."

Simon Kay, the leader of the surgical team, characterized the procedure as "extremely complex."

"We had two operating teams side by side," he said, "with one taking off the rigid hand bit-by-bit while the other marked the donor hand for attachment."

The team carefully marked all the nerves, blood vessels and tendons on both hands to ensure a successful result, he said.

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