Life without hands seems like an impossibility for most of us, but for 8-year-old Zion Harvey, it’s been the norm.
At age 2, Harvey suffered an infection, which meant that his hands and feet had to be amputated and he needed a kidney transplant.
Though lacking limbs, Harvey has enjoyed life as any child would.
With prosthetic feet, Harvey has been able to walk. Now he’s become the first child to receive a bilateral hand transplant. And it seems from the press conference this week that Harvey’s happier than ever with his new hands.
Nonprofit organization Gift of Life worked with doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to find a donor for Harvey.
The 10-hour procedure saw blood vessels, nerves, muscles, bone, and the skin of Harvey’s forearms grafted to the donor’s hands, using steel plates, screws, and microvascular techniques to connect the veins and arteries.
Zion Harvey, before his surgery. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Immunosuppressant drugs and ongoing tailored hand physiotherapy sessions are being used to ensure that his hands have the best chance of not being rejected by his body.
Doctors say that Harvey made a great recovery from the intensive surgery, and he’s adjusting to his new hands very well. Harvey will return home to Maryland in a matter of weeks.
Harvey’s new hands will grow with him, doctors say.
[H/T: Popular Science]