India’s first hand transplant was carried out successfully at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, on January 13, 2015 though several have been performed globally over the last decade. The milestone has already been lauded by international experts.
Hand transplants are considered to be more cost effective and efficient compared to prosthetic hands, especially in bilateral amputees. So far, hand transplants and other composite tissue transfers including the face have been done only in USA, European countries, China and Australia.
The one carried out on January 13, 2015 was the first hand transplant in a coloured skin population in the world and the first in India.
The transplant team was led by Dr. Subramania Iyer, Professor and Chairman of Plastic Surgery. The surgical team comprised of senior consultants in Plastic Surgery – Dr. Mohit Sharma, Dr. Sundeep Vijayaraghavan, Dr. Kishore P. and Dr. Jimmy Mathew. The immunosuppression management was under Dr. George Kurian supported by Dr. Anil Mathew, Dr. Rajesh and Dr. Zachariah. The rehabilitation was carried out by the team led by Dr. Surendran and Dr. Ravi. The center was approved for carrying out hand transplant by the Government of Kerala after the inspections by the medical education directorate.
The operation lasted for 16 hours and ended by 8 PM on Tuesday. More than 20 surgeons participated in the procedure. Each of the hand required connecting two bones, two arteries, 4 veins and about 14 tendens. The immune suppressant drugs were started before the start of the surgery and continued after it.
Internal organ transplants are very common. But the transplant of external parts like face and hand (called composite tissue allotransplant) is rare, but is getting accepted as the best modalities of rehabilitation for many patients. In bilateral hand amputees hand transplants are the best option.
The details of the transplant has been added to the international registry of hand transplants which maintains stringent standards in the followup of these cases.