For the first time ever, a hand has been transplanted from one living human to another, at a hospital in Hanoi on Monday, VnExpress has reported. Pham Van Vuong, 31, who lost his hand four years ago in a work accident, now has a functioning left hand.
The donor had his arm crushed in a brick conveyor and due to excessive infection and gangrene in the arm it had to be amputated to save his life. The man and his family then agreed to donate his hand which was uninjured.
The surgery was completed at Hanoi Military Hospital and took eight hours to complete; the doctors said the process had been “stressful.”
The hospital’s Deputy Director Nguyen The Hoang said that “transplanting hands is much harder than other organs because they have lots of structure, tendons, muscles and joints.”
Both men had similar traits including blood type and parts of their immune system, which helped in the transplant. This was especially important because Vuong had lost his hand in 2016 so the muscles in his wrist had not been used for years.
“The hospital has successfully transplanted a hand from one human to another. This is the first hand transplant from a living donor in the world,” said Mai Hong Bang, hospital’s director, on Monday.
It will take 6-12 months for Vuong to be able to use his new hand normally, and he will have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life.
“When I opened my eyes and saw that I have got a new hand, I was so happy. I wanted to tell my family right away, but could not use a phone then,” Vuong said.
There have been 89 limb transplantation cases in the world. These include 24 in the United States, 13 in China and 11 in France. However, this is the first time that an aware living human has donated a hand for transplant.