Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday felicitated a patient who underwent a bilateral hand transplant (below the elbows) and the team of doctors of Gleneagles Global Health City (GGHC) hospital that performed the surgery two months ago.
The 24-year-old patient lost his hands owing to high voltage electrical burns in 2018 and was dependent on his mother to carry out his daily chores. He registered himself with the Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu for a hand transplant.
After waiting for more than three years, he found a match with a woman who was declared brain dead at a hospital in Ahmedabad in the last week of May.
S. Selva Seetharaman, director and senior consultant, Institute of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, GGHC, said the delay in finding a donor was mainly due to the drop in organ transplants due to COVID-19.
He said another important factor for the delay was the hesitation among the family members of brain dead persons in donating limbs. “While they are okay with donating internal organs, they see the harvesting of hands as a mutilation of the body. Many do not come forward, even though we fit prosthetic limbs after harvesting,” he said.
The patient was fortunate that he found a match and the family of the Ahmedabad woman agreed to donate, the doctor said. The harvested hands were transported to Chennai with the help of the police who formed green corridors between the airports and the hospitals in both cities.
Pointing out that hand transplants required the highest levels of precision, he said the whole procedure took 14 hours with the involvement of eight plastic surgeons, four orthopedicians, a vascular surgeon, a nephrologist, four anaesthetists and around 30 paramedical staff members.
Congratulating the doctors and the patient, Mr. Naidu said he was proud that the country had such dedicated and remarkable medical professionals. “This case is a great example to motivate people to step forward and donate organs, especially the hands of brain dead patients, and provide a good quality of life to the disabled,” he said.