German doctors have succeeded in transplanting two complete arms onto a 54-year old man in what their hospital said was the world’s first operation of this kind.
During 15 hours of surgery, a team of 40 medics attached the arms to a farmer who lost both his arms in an accident six years ago.
The patient was well, the hospital said on Friday.
“Before the operation, we had to describe to him that he would have to deal with the fact he’d have somebody else’s hands,” said Edgar Biemer from the hospital in the southern city of Munich, where the operation took place last week.
“When he woke up he looked at his hands and (went): ‘Very good’,” Biemer, one of the doctors in charge of the operation, told Reuters television.
Biemer said that so far, only transplants of lower arms had taken place. One of the main difficulties for full-arm transplants was finding donors.
“Already, the number of donors willing to donate their internal organs is declining,” he said.
“(On top of that), it is more acceptable for people to have a relative’s kidneys taken out, than for them to have an entire leg, hand or their face cut off.”
In 2005, French doctors performed the world’s first partial face transplant on a 38-year old woman, who had her nose, cheeks, mouth, lips and chin replaced by donor tissue after they were torn off by her dog.