57 year-old Chris King lost both his hands three years ago in a work accident involving a metal press.
At the UK’s Centre for Hand Transplants, Professor Simon Kay, Plastic Surgery Consultant at the Leeds General Infirmary, undertook an unprecedented procedure: to transplant two new donor hands to his patient.
Chris King is the second person to have this operation but the first to undergo a double hand transplant as opposed to a single hand transplant.
Professor Kay revealed that this was a unique procedure because Chris King’s wrists were maintained, which complicated surgery. According to the Professor, a hand transplant is much more difficult than an internal organ transplant because of immunological and aesthetic issues: “They have to look similar because all eyes will constantly be on them”.
Professor Kay also considered the possible psychological impact on transplant patients as well as their families. This transplant not only restored the patient’s hands, but also his memory. In fact, since the accident, he could not remember the condition of his hands. He now remembers them perfectly.
The team at the Leeds General Infirmary, which specialises in hand transplants, hopes to perform 2 to 4 operations every year. Four people are currently on the waiting list.