Britain”s first hand transplant to be performed in NHS hospital next year

Surgeons are to carry out Britain’s first hand transplant, giving hope to those who have suffered terrible injuries.

It involves plastic surgeons carefully stitching on one from a donor, and a new NHS unit will be set up for the procedure.

Professor Simon Kay, who is spearheading the facility at Leeds Teaching Hospital, said the first procedure would be carried out next year and five or six people had already come forward as potential recipients.

New Zealander Clint Hallam received the world

New Zealander Clint Hallam received the world”s first hand transplant in 1998 in France. He had it removed after he could not adjust to having the new body part

Richard Mangino, 65, was the world

Richard Mangino, 65, was the world”s first double hand transplant recipient in Boston, U.S. in October

The operation is fraught with risks, including finding a physical match, the technical difficulties of connecting nerves, muscles and skin, and the possibility of the recipient’s body rejecting it.

Professor Kay’s team need to work with the NHS Blood and Transplant services to find donors as they would have to be brain dead but with their hearts still beating, such as victims of road accidents.

Each hand transplant is likely to cost the NHS about 10,000, not much more than the average kidney transplant.

Around 60 hand transplants have now been performed worldwide, mainly in the U.S. and China. ‘We are not ahead of the game,’ said Professor Kay.
He added: ‘We want to get there when we are confident that it will work. It’s a technology that should be available in Britain.’

Charla Nash, 57, received a very extensive face transplant after she was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago. Here the woman from Connecticut is shown before the tragic incident and after her face transplant surgery

Charla Nash, 57, received a very extensive face transplant after she was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago. Here the woman from Connecticut is shown before the tragic incident and after her face transplant surgery

His team are also keenly aware of the emotional traumas of receiving a new body part, brought into focus by the case of New Zealander Clint Hallam who received the world’s firsthand transplant in 1998 in France after a circular saw accident.

The body part was taken from a motor-cyclist involved in a fatal crash, but Mr Hallam said it felt like a dead man’s hand and later asked doctors to chop it off again.

Professor Kay said: ‘We would be very keen not to scupper the UK programme by having another Clint Hallam.’

Mr Hallam in October 1998 following the surgery

Mr Hallam in October 1998 following the replant surgery