The NHS is to begin carrying out hand transplants for the very first time for patients throughout the UK as of April this year.

This surgical breakthrough will be happening at Leeds General Infirmary for people who need one or two replacement hands.

The operation which is incredibly complex will give patients a new body part which will be warm to the touch and is said to be far more beneficial than a prosthetic limb.

Image: Aftercare of a new hand transplant






Andrew Bannister, Head of Media Relations at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says it is a well-established procedure however there are many issues in terms of potential rejection and that’s what makes a hand transplant so high risk.

“People and their families have to be psychologically prepared for having the transplant”
Andrew Bannister, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Audio: Andrew Bannister explains the complications involved with hand transplants

Suitable donors for hand transplants are much harder to find than more life-threatening surgeries such as heart and liver transplants. A huge amount of factors need to be considered such as skin tone, hand size and of course blood types.

The NHS is backing this new procedure in the UK to provide the best possible doctors to carry out the delicate surgery.

Hand transplant facts:

  • Receivers of the new hand will gain the fingerprint of their donor
  • Patients have to go through extensive psychotherapy screening before an operation is carried out
  • The limb must exactly match the recipient patient
  • The procedure involves four teams of surgeons working at the same time
  • The two bones in the upper arm are then attached to each other with titanium plates and screws
  • After the bones are attached, surgeons connect key tendons and muscles
  • Approximately 80 hand transplants have taken place worldwide

Mark Cahill was the first recipient of a hand transplant in this country in 2012.