A truly ground breaking procedure took place here at Emory this weekend. Transplant surgeons at Emory University Hospital have successfully completed the program’s first hand transplant. Not only is the complete hand transplant a first for Emory, but also the first hand transplant in the Southeast and only the 14th such procedure in the country. Emory transplant specialists performed this rare complete hand transplant procedure for a 21-year-old student out of Florida whose arm was amputated at the age of 1 due to Kawasaki Disease.
The hand transplant surgery lasted for 19 hours on Saturday, March 12 and involved a true multidisciplinary effort, including two teams (one dedicated to the patient and one to the donor arm) of transplant surgeons, specialists, nurses, and support staff. Since completion of the hand transplant, the patient has begun rehabilitation at Emory and will continue to rehabilitate in Atlanta for the next several months. As an IT major, when asked how the transplant would impact her life, her face lit up as she said, “I just want to be able to type.”
Emory’s Hand Transplant Program, established in 2007, is led by Dr. Linda Cendales, the only person in the United States with formal training in both hand and transplant surgery. Cendales is responsible for organizing the team that performed the first hand transplant in the U.S. and joined the Emory team from a program in Louisville that conducted 6 of the hand transplantations performed in the U.S.
If you have questions on the procedure or Emory’s Hand Transplant Program, please leave them in the comments section below.