In the United States, 8 year-old Zion has undergone a double hand and forearm transplant – a “world first” for a child, according to the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.
Zion had to have his hands and feet amputated at 2 years of age following septicaemia – a serious, life-threatening infection. At the age of four, he underwent a kidney transplant. He is now walking with artificial limbs.
At six years of age, he was chosen for this double transplant. Dr. Benjamin Chang, Co-Director of the Hand Transplant Program at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital explained, “The kidney transplant following infection made Zion an excellent candidate for transplantation because he was already taking medicines to prevent organ rejection”.
The operation, which took over 10 hours, was led by a multidisciplinary medical team of 40 people. The team, divided into four units, used plates and screws to fix the bones. The arteries and veins were then carefully reconnected and once the blood circulation was established, surgeons connected the tendons and muscles followed by the nerves” and skin.
Doctors hope that Zion will be able to return home to Baltimore in a few weeks’ time. However, he will have to be medically monitored throughout his life.
The first double hand and double forearm transplant surgery was carried out in January 2000 in Lyon, France. The patient, a 33 year-old house painter, had had his limbs amputated following serious injuries sustained when a homemade rocket exploded.
Le Parisien 29/07/2015 ; Ouest-France 29/07/2015 ; Doctissimo (David Bême) 29/07/2015