An NHS hospital trust has started searching for patients that could potentially take part in and benefit from the UK’s first ever hand transplant.
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been contacting plastic surgery clinics across the UK in an attempt to find an adult willing to participate in the revolutionary procedure.
Surgeons from the Trust are now hopeful a suitable patient will identified and will undergo a hand transplant within the next 12 months at Leeds General Infirmary.
Although a hand transplant has not yet taken place in the UK, more than 60 procedures have been carried out worldwide and the first was in France in 1998.
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Professor Simon Kay, who has experience in delicate microsurgery and reconstruction, is the plastic surgeon leading the search for a suitable patient.
He said: “Leeds is extremely well placed to offer this new type of transplant surgery as we already have the expertise and facilities in place and excellent clinical outcomes.”
“We are one of the best-known microsurgery units in Europe and the principles of transplanting a hand and lower limb are exactly the same as the work we already to reattach an existing hand or limb when it is severed in an accident, for example.”
To ensure the hospital is in the best position to carry out a hand transplant, Professor Kay has been in close contact with centres and surgeons across Europe with experience in the surgery.
“Preparing for any new type of transplant surgery takes time and of course we need to ensure we have all the protocols in place for when the time comes,” Kay said.
Patients who are interested in undergoing the transplant are subjected to strict regulations and criteria to ensure they are exactly right for the procedure.
Kay commented: “NHS Blood and Transplant is working with us to establish the procedures for identifying potential donors, discussing donation with their next of kin and facilitating donation.
“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity as this type of surgery can transform the quality of life for patients who have lost one or both hands or arms.”
Although the search for patient is mainly being carried out through plastic surgery clinics, patients who want to be considered should email the hospital trust at email@example.com.
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