News In Depth
Hand transplant man tells of hopes
The first person in the UK to have a hand transplant has described how he is most looking forward to holding his grandson's hand.
A shocked Mark Cahill, 51, was told on Boxing Day that a donor hand was available.
And he underwent the procedure a day later in a pioneering eight-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The former pub landlord from Greetland, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, said the move had changed his life.
He told ITV's Daybreak: "Eight o'clock on Boxing Day night we got a phone call saying we may have a donor.
"As you can imagine, the day after Christmas it was quite a shock.
"I'm getting slight movement now, my feeling has just started coming back, but everything's looking very, very good.
"Long term I won't have 100% use of it, but obviously I'm going to have a lot more use than I had with the existing hand.
"I think I've dealt with it pretty well. The only thing you can't do is know what is going to happen after the operation, and as it has turned out it is brilliant. I'm well happy.
"Hopefully I will be able to get back to work for a start, that's a major difference.
"For a start I might be able to cut my food up, button my shirts, fasten a pair of shoelaces, and mainly I'll be able to hold my grandson's hand."
And Mr Cahill told the BBC: "When I look at it and move it, it just feels like my hand.
"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."
Mr Cahill, who is married to Sylvia and has one daughter, lost the use of his right hand due to severe gout, which also affects other parts of his body.
He had been part of a programme of potential recipients at the LGI and was one of two potential candidates when the donated limb became available on Boxing Day.
The hospital said he was selected because he was the best tissue match.
The operation, which was done by a team led by consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, used a new technique which involved Mr Cahill 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.
Professor Kay 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.
"Any organ donation brings something positive from tragedy and I would like to acknowledge the tremendous gift the family of the donor have made at such a distressing time.
"It is still early days but indications are good and the patient is making good progress."
Leeds Teaching Hospitals announced in late 2011 that it was starting to look for potential candidates for hand or arm transplants.
A spokesman said that since then, the LGI team had been preparing and assessing potential recipients from across the country.
Potential patients have gone through a series of health checks and psychological assessment to ensure they have carefully considered the implications of the procedure.
The team has been working closely with NHS Blood and Transplant and also colleagues in Lyon, France, where hand transplants were pioneered in 1998.
The first-ever recipient in France was New Zealander Clint Hallam, who later had his new hand removed.
Mr Hallam lost his original hand in a circular saw accident in prison in 1984.
He eventually decided he could not live with his new hand, which was taken from a motorcyclist who died in an accident. He said it felt like a dead man's hand.
It was removed two years later in London.
Doctors indicated Mr Hallam had not stuck to the correct drugs and exercise regime.
His experience cast doubt on the whole procedure although surgeons have pointed out that a number of hand transplants have been successfully completed in the US as well as in France.
what do you think?
I am in total awe and full of admiration for the remarkable people who can carry out such procedures
Amazing and brilliant!
Good old N.H.S. LEADING THE WORLD.
Good old N.H.S. LEADING THE WORLD Been done else where years ago including a face transplant Like the NHS you are year behind the rest
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
You've got to hand it to them !
And being a male the fist thing it did was pick his nose
Man with hand transplant told to get a grip ! .