Scotsman Stephen Gallagher, 48, underwent a double hand transplant. According to the doctors who performed the operation, this is the first time in the world that a double hand transplant has been successfully performed.
Gallagher has struggled with scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease that leads to skin problems, for more than a decade. Internal organs can also be affected. His fingers started to convulse, leaving Gallagher only able to form a fist. “The pain was unbearable,” said Gallagher, who had to give up his job as a bishop.
Doctors advised the man to have a hand transplant. A risky operation that Gallagher wanted to undergo after intense discussions with his wife. “At first I had to laugh when Professor Hart in Glasgow told me about the transplant. To me it seemed like something from another era. My wife and I talked about it and decided to do it. I could lose my hand anyway. So this was actually a matter Let go of my hand,” it seems.
After finding a suitable donor, doctors began a 12-hour process. Gallagher was initially unable to move his hands shortly after the operation, but in the meantime he is making huge strides. He can pet his dog and even turn on the tap. The pain is almost completely gone. “The doctors have given me a new lease on life,” he told the Guardian. “I woke up after surgery and it was surreal because before that I had my hands and when I woke up after surgery I still had my hands, so I didn’t have any hands in my head.”
The surgery took place in December of last year, but Gallagher wanted to wait for the results before telling his story to the media. The man is again optimistic about the future. In secret, he even hopes to be able to go to work.
According to the transplant team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, this is the world’s first double hand transplant. The medical world describes the operation as “successful”.
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