Penn Med team gives eight year old boy a new grasp on life

The Daily Pennsylvanian | Shoba Babu

L Scott Levin, Director of the Hand Transplantation Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

This summer, surgeons at Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia performed the world’s first ever double hand transplant on a child, giving eight-year-old Zion Harvey, who lost his hands as a toddler, a new chance at life.

When Zion was two years old, he survived a life-threatening bacterial infection, which left him without hands and feet and required a kidney transplant. A resilient child, Zion learned to use prosthetic hands and feet for day-to-day life without complaining, but he still secretly wished that one day he would have a pair of hands he could call his own.

I hoped for somebody to ask me [if] I want a hand transplant, and it came true,” he told NBC News earlier this summer.

Because he had been taking immunosuppressants from a young age to prevent the rejection of the transplanted kidney, Zion was a perfect candidate for another transplant. After going through intense tests and screenings to check if he had the proper social support and could physically and emotionally manage the procedure, Zion received a match donor through the Gift of Life Donor Program and was cleared to make history. Continue reading