FIRST DOUBLE-HAND TRANSPLANT ALLOWS CHILD TO EAT, DRESS AND WRITE

NEWSWEEK | Jessica Firger
Zion Harvey is now able to do normal daily tasks, thanks to a double hand transplant he underwent a few years ago. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA
An 8-year-old boy is now able to write, eat and get dressed on his own, thanks to a double-hand transplant performed just a few years ago. The case study, published Tuesday in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, highlights a procedure performed by a team of doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The patient—still enjoying the full function of his hands today—is proof that limb transplantation can be safely and successfully conducted on the youngest of patients.

The patient, Zion Harvey, lost his hands after suffering from sepsis that required a double amputation. Doctors said Zion was an especially good candidate for the transplant because he was already taking immunosuppression drugs at the time of the surgery—to prevent the rejection of a donor kidney from his mother.

After the successful 10 hour and 40 minute procedure, Zion experienced some minor setbacks; his body rejected the limbs eight times. With the help of several months of rehabilitative services, including occupational therapy and psychological counseling, Zion slowly made a recovery.

“Hand transplantation is not lifesaving, but for many patients, the improvements in function and quality of life justify the commitment to lifelong immunosuppression and prolonged functional rehabilitation,” the researchers write in the paper. “In children, concerns underlying the risk–benefit balance of hand transplantation are more nuanced than in adults.” VIDEO Continue reading

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