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First UK hand transplant

Report & Video by Lindsay Brown

A 51-year-old man has become the first person in the UK to have a hand transplant.

Doctors at Leeds General Infirmary said Mark Cahill underwent the complex, eight-hour procedure on December 27 when a donor hand became available.

They said a new technique was used which involved Mr Cahill, from Greetland, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, having his non-functioning right hand removed during the same operation as the donor hand was transplanted.

This procedure allowed very accurate restoration of nerve structures and is believed to be the first time this approach has been used, surgeons said.

"When I look at it and move it, it just feels like my hand," Mr Cahill said.

"Right now it feels really good, it's not a lot of pain, it looks good, it looks a great match and I'm looking forward to getting it working now."

Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, who led the surgical team, said: "This operation is the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation over the last two years by a team including plastic surgery, transplant medicine and surgery, immunology, psychology, rehabilitation medicine, pharmacy and many other disciplines.

"The team was on standby from the end of November awaiting a suitable donor limb, and the call came just after Christmas.

"It was extremely challenging to be the first team in the UK to carry out such a procedure.

"It is still early days but indications are good and the patient is making good progress."

The hospital said Mr Cahill lost the use of his right hand due to severe gout.

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