UCLA performs first hand transplant in the western United States

Mar 08, 2011
UCLA surgical team performs first hand transplant in western U.S. Dr. Kodi Azari (left) and members of his surgical team perform the first hand transplant in the western United States at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, March 5, 2011. Courtesy of UCLA Health System/Ann Johansson Photography

Surgeons at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center performed the first hand transplant in the western United States in an operation that began one minute before midnight on Friday, March 4, and was completed 14-and-a-half hours later, on Saturday, March 5.

The transplant was performed on a 26-year-old mother from Northern California who lost her right hand in a traffic accident nearly five years ago. UCLA is only the fourth center in the nation to offer this procedure, and the first west of the Rockies. This was the 13th hand performed in the United States.

A team of 17 surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room nurses and technicians were involved in the effort to graft the hand onto the patient. The operation began with two surgical teams working simultaneously to prepare the donor graft and the recipient. At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, four-and-a-half hours after the operation began, the donor limb was joined to the recipient. The surgeons then began the complex work of attaching tendons, and nerves to complete the , which concluded at 2:30 p.m.

Following the surgery, the patient was brought back to her room, where she was met by grateful members of her family. She remains at the medical center and will begin extensive physical rehabilitation and a regimen of immunosuppressant medication to help prevent her body from rejecting the new appendage.

"I am ecstatic with the results — a little tired, but ecstatic," said lead surgeon Dr. Kodi Azari, surgical director of the UCLA Program and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, at the conclusion of the marathon surgery. "Everything went well. The size, color and hair pattern match between the donor and recipient is nearly identical. We are so proud to have been able to give our patient the gift of a new hand."

Azari was a surgeon in four previous hand transplant surgeries performed in the U.S. prior to coming to UCLA.

The transplant was made possible by the generosity of the family of a deceased donor in San Diego. The donor's family worked with the staff at Lifesharing, who had been briefed last week by the transplant team at UCLA. Lifesharing, a division of UC San Diego Medical Center, is a nonprofit, federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization serving San Diego and Imperial counties.

The transplant surgery is part of a clinical trial at UCLA intended to confirm that surgical techniques already established in hand transplantation are successful. The trial also aims to study the return of function in transplanted hands and to assess the effectiveness and safety of a less toxic anti-rejection medication protocol.

The transplant team will closely monitor the patient's progress and how well her body adjusts to the new hand. As part of this, doctors will map her brain at key points in her recovery, observing which parts light up when she is asked to move her fingers or other parts of the new hand.

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Marine moves fingers after rare hand transplant

Mar 23, 2009

(AP) -- Surgeons have transplanted a hand onto a Marine who was hurt in a training accident, and he has some movement in his fingers, according to the hospital where the operation occurred.

Double hand transplant patient recovering well

May 08, 2009

(AP) -- Valarie Kepner was so excited at learning last fall that doctors might be able give her husband new hands that she called the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center without telling him first.

Second face transplant in US performed

Apr 10, 2009

Surgeons in Boston have performed the second-ever partial face transplant in the United States, replacing some 80 percent of a disfigured man's face.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.