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Hand transplants available to NHS patients

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Health officials have revealed that hand transplants will be available to UK patients on the NHS. Assessment of suitable candidate will commence from April from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The complex procedure involves firstly finding a donor who matches the blood type, immunology, arm size and skin tone of the patient, and the patient has to have gone through thorough psychotherapy screening before the operation goes ahead. It takes four teams of surgeons working together in order to successfully attached the transplant, attaching bones, tendons, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. The operation usually takes around 6 to 12 hours to complete, but depends on the complexity of the case.

The transplant hand will be able to heal itself, as well as sense its surroundings. It is the only option of reconstruction for people with damaged hands that is actually like a normal hand, both in looks and function. Patients will be able to move the hand, and due to the blood supply to it, it will feel warm to the touch.

Professor Simon Kay, consultant plastic surgeon at the centre in Leeds, performed the first ground beaking hand transplant in 2012 and commented; “We are delighted to be confirmed as the provider of this new service. The team here at Leeds is keen to now assess new patient referrals and benefit patients and their families in a way they may never have thought possible before.”

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