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Double hand transplant man reveals he can already move his fingers a week after surgery



By Claire Bates

Last updated at 9:17 AM on 3rd September 2010



A burns victim who received a new pair of hands in a rare double transplant, has made his first appearance and said he can already wiggle his fingers.

Dr Richard Edwards, 55, who received his new body parts in an 18-hour operation on 25th August, said he felt 'fantastic' after the operation. He first saw his hands two days later when the bandages were removed.


article-1308620-0B048FFC000005DC-152_468x424.jpg Dr Richard Edwards scratches his face with one of his new hands at Jewish Hospital, in Louisville. His new body parts were attached only one week ago


The chiropractor from Edmond, Oklahoma, had struggled with simple tasks such as holding his keys or eating food since his hands were severely burned in a fire in 2006.

Dr Edwards said he feels 'very blessed' with his new hands and is now eager to start his new life.

'I know that if I can't go chiropractic work at least I can start doing things again,' he told a press conference yesterday.

'And I really want to hold my wife's hand again and feel the touch of her skin.'

His wife Cindy revealed that Dr Edwards had struggled with depression for four years after the accident and she was looking forward to having her husband back with his old 'zeal for life.'

'I cannot thank the donor family enough for giving him a second lease of life,' she said.

Doctors say Dr Edwards' progress is ahead of other patients because they were able to route his existing nerves into the donor hands.

He had lost seven fingers after his accident but retained most of his original hands, though they were badly burned.



Enlarge article-1308620-0B049298000005DC-388_468x335.jpg Dr Warren Breidenbach of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, left, explains how Dr Edwards now has dexterity after they routed his nerves into the new hands


Dr Edwards was the country's third double hand transplant recipient. The surgery was performed at Jewish Hospital, the site of the world's first successful hand transplant in 1999.

A team of six hand surgeons, one anaesthetist, one nurse and five extra medical staff worked on the unidentified patient on a rotating basis.

Lead surgeon Dr Warren Breidenbach said doctors were able to put some of the patient's existing nerves into hands from a donor.

Another doctor outside the operating theatre posted more than 60 updates on the social networking website Twitter during the marathon surgery.

The first Tweet was at 12.25am, which read: 'Patient excited for new hands but we know there is a donor family facing a time of sadness. We are grateful for their generosity.'

Enlarge article-1306321-0AEBBDCD000005DC-863_468x346.jpg The medical team worked on both donor hands at once at The Jewish Hospital in Louisville



Enlarge article-1306321-0AEBBDDD000005DC-597_468x286.jpg One of the new hands which came from the same donor. The doctors said they were very grateful to the donor's family for allowing the operation


Surgeons removed non-functioning hand tissue from the patient in preparation for the donor hands and five hours later had attached the bones of the new hands to the patient with plates and screws.

'Surgeons are now preparing the arteries. This will be the most important part of the operation,' the doctors tweeted at 6.36am.

Once the arteries and veins were attached the team complete nerve repairs before sewing the new appendages shut and bandaging them up. They finished around 8.30pm.


The team expect the wounds to take about six weeks to heal and sensation would return after several months.

Enlarge article-1306321-0AEBBDD1000005DC-262_224x367.jpg

Enlarge article-1306321-0AEBBDD5000005DC-758_224x367.jpg



Surgeons transport the donor hands to the operating room (left), while internet users could read updates on Twitter (right)

As with any transplant, there is a risk of rejection and Mr Edwards will need to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

Dr Edwards said: 'The very worst thing that could happen could be losing my hands and I thought long and hard about it. But I thought it was well worth taking the risk.

'My wife and I thought that whatever happened it would be the will of God and we are at peace with it.'

Doctors said the patient is expected to spend about three months in Louisville recovering and undergoing extensive rehabilitation.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1308620/Double-hand-transplant-man-Richard-Edwards-reveals-fingers.html#ixzz0ySGuMYzJ

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