|Patient rests with new right hand after surgeons performed a hand transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Surgeons at Ronald Reagan University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center performed the first hand transplant in the western U.S. in an operation that began one minute before midnight on March 4, 2011 and was completed 14-and-a-half hours later, on 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 5 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 transplant surgery 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.
“I am ecstatic with the results — a little tired, but ecstatic,” Kodi Azari, MD, FACS, lead surgeon, surgical director of the UCLA Hand Transplant Program and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, stated in a press release. “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.”
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.