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Great news for UK transplant surgery

Great news for UK transplant surgery

2013 sees the on-going recovery of the UK's first hand transplant recipient - Mark Cahill was part of an 8-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary this Christmas and the news is good. Sarah Kean-Price reports:

Congratulations must go out to both the patient and staff team who took part in the UK’s first successful hand transplant on the 27th of December! Mark Cahill, 51 was part of an 8-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary to treat the effects of gout in his right hand by replacing it with a donor hand.

Consultant surgeon Professor Simon Kay, quoted by Sky News, said that this had taken a good two years to plan with a cross-disciplinary team consisting of members from immunology, plastic surgery, psychology, transplant medicine and surgery, pharmacy and many more. The team has been on stand-by from the end of November and received news of an appropriate donor just after Christmas Day.

Prior hand transplants have not always gone well (as to be expected with a relatively new and little-used procedure) but a new technique was used which is thought should reduce the issues associated with previous limb transplants.

Mr Cahill told the BBC that “It just does not feel like somebody else's hand. As I look at it and move it, it just feels like my hand..... it's not a lot of pain, it looks good, it looks a great match and I'm looking forward to getting it working now".

Current transplant technology still will not leave Mr Cahill with full use of his new hand but he’ll gain an independence lost to him for some time. Just 9 days later, he can already wiggle his fingers. He mentioned particularly looking forward to being able to dress himself, cut up his own food and play with his grandson - abilities we can all appreciate. Once more, we wish a speedy recovery to Mr Cahill and a sound pat on the back to all staff involved – well done all!

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