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Handy step forward as NHS offers hand transplant operations

You may have seen the news recently that the NHS will officially be offering hand transplants to patients across the UK from April, allowing recipients hands that are warm to the touch and provide a much higher level of functionality than a prosthetic hand. 

This is undoubtedly a welcome step forward when it comes to caring for individuals who have been subject to losing one or both hands through no fault of their own.  Around 80 hand transplants have been carried out across the world since the first successful hand transplant in 1998.  The NHS’ hand transplant service will be headed up by consultant plastic surgeon specialist, Prof Simon Kay, who successfully performed the UK’s first hand transplant in 2012.  The recipient was Mark Cahill from Halifax, who had lost his hand in an attack of gout.  
That said, this doesn’t mean that being able to have a new hand (or hands) is a straightforward process.  There is a great deal of complexity involved in the operation.  It involves  several teams of surgeons working simultaneously, with one team removing the donor’s hand or hands, and sometimes the arm too, whilst another performs the transplant.  Titanium plates are used to hold broken bones together, with the surgeons using microsurgery to connect key blood vessels and nerves, and tendons and muscles are then attached before the patient’s skin is closed.  

Patients must also undergo a rigorous screening process.  This not only ensures that they have compatible blood groups, skin tones and hand sizes, but also that they are psychologically able to cope with the adjustments they will need to make after the surgery is over, and they are in receipt of new hands. 

My colleagues and I have dealt with numerous individuals who have suffered injuries that have ultimately led to them losing all or part of a limb and watching the steps made towards increasing the quality of life for injured amputees by highly talented medical professionals is truly heart-warming. 

Our role in cases of a catastrophic nature is to support and advise our clients on the course of action that will give them the best possible recovery.  I am delighted to think that this is another area of transformational surgery my clients now have clear, easy access to, should the circumstances of their injury dictate it necessary. 

If you’ve found yourself in the position of having lost a limb as the result of someone else’s negligence and you’d like to make a claim, I’m happy to help.  You can email me: jason.harwood@jmw.co.uk or call me; 0161 828 1816. 

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