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4 January 2013, 09:52
A 51 year old man has become the first person in the UK to have a hand transplant in an operation in Leeds.
A shocked Mark Cahill, was told on Boxing Day that a donor hand was available. He underwent the procedure a day later in a pioneering eight-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The former pub landlord from Greetland, near Halifax, said the move had changed his life. He told ITV's Daybreak: “Eight o'clock on Boxing Day night we got a phone call saying we may have a donor. As you can imagine, the day after Christmas it was quite a shock.
“I'm getting slight movement now, my feeling has just started coming back, but everything's looking very, very good. Long term I won't have 100% use of it, but obviously I'm going to have a lot more use than I had with the existing hand.”
Doctors said a new technique was used which involved Mark having his non-functioning right hand removed during the same operation as the donor hand was transplanted.
This procedure allowed very accurate restoration of nerve structures and is believed to be the first time this approach has been used, surgeons said.
The hospital said Mr Cahill lost the use of his right hand due to severe gout.
Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, who led the surgical team, said: “The team was on standby from the end of November awaiting a suitable donor limb, and the call came just after Christmas. It was extremely challenging to be the first team in the UK to carry out such a procedure.
"Any organ donation brings something positive from tragedy and I would like to acknowledge the tremendous gift the family of the donor have made at such a distressing time. It is still early days but indications are good and the patient is making good progress.”