How did Steven Gallagher get the world first Hand Transplant? Explained

Steven Gallagher’s hands will be removed after scarring imprisoned them in painful fists. Let’s see how did Steven Gallagher get the world’s first Hand Transplant.

Steven Gallagher get the world’s first Hand Transplant

Steven Gallagher of the United Kingdom lost his hands to a painful autoimmune condition called scleroderma when scarring imprisoned them in agonizing fists, but it wasn’t the end of his independence. He was fortunate to have a double hand transplant thanks to plastic surgeons with skills in hand surgery, which has allowed him to not only be pain-free but also to stroke his dog again.

Gallagher developed coloring on his nose and cheeks thirteen years ago that resembled a malar – or butterfly – rash associated with the autoimmune disease lupus, according to BBC News. However, as he began to experience agony in both arms, it became clear that he was suffering from scleroderma, a disorder in which a person’s body attacks itself.

The immune system attacks connective tissue, such as the skin, blood vessels, and internal organs, in systemic sclerosis, another name for this group of disorders. As a result, scleroderma patients may acquire rigid, thicker skin that restricts movement and causes pain. He was in severe discomfort and unable to move his hands, but Professor Andrew Hart of Glasgow’s Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit thought that a double hand transplant would help.

How did hand Transplantation done?

Hand transplants have been done before and around the world, including one case in India that astonished doctors since the donor’s hands took on the recipient’s skin tone following the transplant. In 2015, the world’s first double hand transplant was performed, while the first in the United Kingdom was performed in 2016 by consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay of Leeds Teaching Hospitals, who also worked with Hart on Gallagher’s case. Gallagher’s hands were particularly badly affected, and around seven years ago, they began to develop hardened skin, causing his fingers to curl into a fist.

Gallagher’s hands were successfully replaced with those from a cadaver in a 12-hour operation in December 2021, thanks to a team of 30 medical professionals. Surprisingly, he was able to utilize the transplanted extremities quickly after waking up from the operation, and he later discovered that his persistent discomfort had vanished.

The unusual procedure is thought to be the first time a scleroderma patient has received a double hand transplant to control the condition’s symptoms, and it appears to have been a life-changing experience for Gallagher so far. While he has not yet restored his pre-scleroderma dexterity, he has regained some independence and remains optimistic that he will be able to return to work one day when he recovers from the treatment.

The Procedure of Hand Transplantation

Hand transplant surgery is a lengthy procedure that can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours to complete. Your procedure will be performed by a team of surgeons who will keep your family updated on how things are going.

When the donor’s hand is ready to be linked to your arm, your surgeons will use small metal plates to connect your bones to the donor hand’s bones. The blood vessels, nerves, and tendons will subsequently be attached using special sutures (stitches) by your surgeons. Sutures are placed using a special operating room microscope. The skin is closed once all of the pieces of the donor’s hand and recipient’s arm have been joined.

You’ll be admitted to an intensive care unit after your procedure (ICU). Your health care team will examine your donor hand or hands for function, and you will be asked to move your fingers. The temperature in your room may be raised to encourage blood circulation in your donor’s hand or hands.

You’ll be moved to a separate hospital room once you’re stable enough to leave the ICU. Following your transplant, you should expect to spend 7 to 10 days in the hospital.

Following your transplant, your medical team will assist you in managing your discomfort. It’s critical to let your team know how severe your pain is because treating your pain can help you heal faster.

While you’re in the hospital, a specialized hand therapist will work with you on physical rehabilitation. He or she will teach you techniques to help you regain control of your hand. You’ll wear a splint on your hand in between workouts to keep it stable. You’ll also learn how to do workouts on your own.

It’s typical to have some mental distress following surgery. You may experience difficulties sleeping and adjusting to your new routine of caring for your donor hand or hands. If you have any emotional issues, speak with members of your transplant team.


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