US doctors have successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto eight-year-old Zion Harvey, in the world's first successful double hand transplant on a child, whose own were amputated several years ago.
He had undergone amputation of his hands and feet and a kidney transplant following a serious infection, a statement from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) stated. A happy and outgoing child, Zion cannot wait to throw a football with his new hands.
He has adapted well to life without hands, learning to eat, write and even play video games. He figured out ways to perform most of the activities other kids his age can do. Zion received prosthetics for his feet and is able to walk, run and jump with complete independence.
Following his latest surgery performed earlier this month and after his upcoming rehabilitation, it is expected that Zion will finally get his wish to throw a football along with a myriad of other accomplishments to come.
Led by L Scott Levin, director of the hand transplantation program at CHOP, a 40-member multidisciplinary team participated in the 10-hour surgical transplantation.
"This surgery was the result of years of training, followed by months of planning and preparation by a remarkable team," said Levin. "The success of first bilateral hand transplant on an adult, performed in 2011, gave us a foundation to adapt the intricate techniques and coordinated plans required to perform this type of complex procedure on a child," Levin noted.
Double hand transplantation is a complex procedure involving many surgical and non-surgical components. During the surgery, the hands and forearms from the donor were attached by connecting bone, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tendons and skin.
"We have learned the importance of closely monitoring and managing the activity of the immune system through years of experience, and are hopeful that Zion will enjoy excellent long-term allograft function and a normal life," Abraham Shaked, professor of surgery and director, Penn Transplant Institute, said.