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First in Poland simultaneous transplantation of both hands

28.06.2010 Health
Press conference on former GROM soldier hand transplantation surgery in St. Hedwig hospital in Trzebnica. PAP / Grzegorz Hawałej

Press conference on former GROM soldier hand transplantation surgery in St. Hedwig hospital in Trzebnica. PAP / Grzegorz Hawałej

First in Poland simultaneous transplantation of both hands has been performed in District Hospital in Trzebnica (Lower Silesia), and everything indicates that it has succeeded. The patient, a former soldier, is already few weeks after the procedure, is doing well and continues his rehabilitation.
Dr Jerzy Jabłecki explained at the press conference that the operation was not only a great and very complicated medical event, but was also logistically difficult, because two teams of doctors and nurses had to be involved at the same time. "This operation shows, however, that we are a very good and harmonious team, which is able to can carry out very complicated transplants" - found Jabłecki. He admitted that the performing this procedure was his medical dream, but already has another.

34-year-old soldier lost both his hands three years ago, probably in an explosion. Both transplanted hands came from a dead donor - a middle-aged woman. Doctors from the hospital refused to disclose the data or the donor, and did not confirm that the recipient was a GROM soldier. Only Gen. Sławomir Petelicki spoke on television that a GROM soldier was operated in Trzebnica.

"For the patient, to whom we offer a transplant, it is never never important whether the donor is male or female. What does matter is immunological selection, meaning the blood type, and anatomical selection, meaning that the hands must not be too big or too small. Skin color, nail shape, or hair is irrelevant, because it is subject to recipient hormonal control, i.e. in time the hand becomes similar to the rest of the body" - told Dr Adam Domanasiewicz.

He revealed that this time, patients were ready to receive hand transplants, but almost at the last moment it turned out that one patient did not consent, and the other was sick. "Only the third patient - a soldier, waiting 3 years for a transplant, fulfilled all conditions, was healthy and ready for a transplant" - explained Domanasiewicz.

Dr. Jabłecki said that the operation consisting of bone fixation, muscle, vein, joints and nerve repair lasted 17 hours and was very difficult. Firstly, two patient’s fingers, which remained on one hand after the explosion, had to be amputated. "His fingers were too mangled and contaminated to leave them" - he Jabłecki. He explained that the left hand had to be attached at the wrist, and right one at the metacarpus, which is the intermediate part of the hand located about 5 cm above the wrist. "During the operation unforeseen complications occured. We had to re-attach one of the hands" - told Jabłecki.

The film presented to journalists shows a patient with outstretched hands, two independent teams of doctors working on each of them. Jabłecki explained that the two teams worked independently, but their work had to be synchronized. Later in the film – the patient wanted to meet with journalists in person - the smiling man slightly moves his fingers thanks the donor’s family, colleagues from his unit, and all blood donors, because almost 30 litres of blood have been used for the surgery. "Dozens of people gave blood: soldiers, policemen and many others" - told Domanasiewicz.

Until now, doctors in Trzebnica have conducted four arm and hand transplants. The first such surgery was performed in 2006. Domanasiewicz asked by journalists whether the soldier's hands in time would reach 100 percent recovery, said that the patient would not become a violinist, but the hands should be achieve 90 percent recovery.

"This is a very good patient. He is healthy, disciplined, understands the seriousness of the situation and does not have excessive expectations. This attitude is very promising" - said Jabłecki.

The cost of this operation is about PLN 150 thousand. Hospital in Trzebnica has a contract to carry out two transplantations a year. Simultaneous transplantation of both hands is considered a single procedure. Hospital in Trzebnica is one of the best such facilities in Europe and one of five in the world. UMW

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, tr. RL

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