There have been about 40 hand transplants around the world!

April 21, 2009

A French scheme of the 1998 first hand transplant in the world.

In 1998 surgeons in France have carried out the world’s first hand transplant. In 1998 the transplanted hand came from an anonymous dead donor and was grafted onto the right arm of 45-year-old Clint Hallam, an Australian whose own hand was amputated in 1984 after an accident.

In april 2009 the 6th hand transplant in the US (the 40th in the world) was performed on a Marine combat engineer who lost his hand during the war in Iraq: on Jan. 31, 2007, while holding a quarter-stick of TNT in his right hand when it accidentally exploded. The transplanted hand came from an 18-year-old West Virginia man who died of head trauma.

HAND TRANSPLANTS BETTER THAN PROSTHETICS?

The benefits of a hand transplant can very significant, but these advances are not very well described and rated yet. However, the rejection risk (the body may ‘reject’ the new hand) and ethical concerns still make it a touchy issue.

Likely, what is needed is a controlled study comparing hand transplant recipients and prosthetics users of a hand prosthesis on various tasks, including quality-of-life measurements.

• Dr. Joseph Imbriglia (hand surgeon) says:

“The prostheses become more of a burden than not, and the reason is that they have no sensation.”

• MD. John D. Lantos (bioethicist) says:

“You could look at such things as, can they pick up a penny, can they hold a pencil, can they eat with a spoon or play a piano – you can imagine hundreds of things you could measure with the two groups where you could say in these domains transplant patients are doing as well, or worse or better. And then you’d have the possibility for truly informed procedures.”

Sources: World’s first hand transplant & A functioning hand

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