UK’s first hand transplant completed at Leeds hospital

By Gerald Heneghan

The UK’s first hand transplant operation has been successfully accomplished at Leeds General Infirmary.

A surgical team on standby at the hospital undertook the procedure on December 27th last year after a donor limb became available for use.

The complicated operation was carried out on 51-year-old Mark Cahill of Halifax, whose right hand was left non-functioning after being affected by gout.

Doctors performing the procedure utilised a cutting-edge technique that saw the removal and transplant performed at the same time.

“This allowed very accurate restoration of nerve structures and is believed to be the first time this approach has been used,” Leeds General Infirmary said.

Commenting on the procedure’s success, consultant plastic surgeon professor Simon Kay described it as the “culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation”.

“It was extremely challenging to be the first team in the UK to carry out such a procedure,” he said.

Professor Kay went on to hail the donor and his family for their “tremendous gift” and praised organ donation as a way to bring “something positive from tragedy”.

This type of transplant is a relatively new field, developed in France and the US in the late 1990s. And although this operation was the first of its type in the UK, several successful procedures have been already been carried out overseas.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals initially announced its search for potential candidates for the process in 2011, although a great deal of time was taken in assessing prospective recipients from throughout the UK.


Image used courtesy of Clive Chilvers /

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