A 32-year-old Polish man named Piotr who was born without his left hand has received a transplant from a donor, in what surgeons have described as a world-first procedure. Previously, hand transplants had only been conducted on people who had lost one of theirs in an accident, but never on patients with congenital defects that resulted in them lacking a hand from birth.
Over the course of 13 hours, doctors at Wroclaw Medical University attached a deceased donor’s hand to Piotr’s wrist, using titanium screws and plates to join the bones before intricately connecting up the muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels.
Adam Domanasiewicz, who led the operation, told news outlets the procedure marks an “important breakthrough in neurophysiology and the practice of transplants because up to now it was thought that – in the case of this type of congenital defect – such grafts could not be done.”
While the donor hand has not been rejected by the recipient’s body, he does not yet have full use of the new hand, and can only move the fingers. However, the team behind the operation are optimistic that over time Piotr will gain more control and dexterity, as well as being able to feel hot, cold and other sensations.