Just earlier this week, news emerged about the status and progress of the world’s youngest recipient of a double hand transplant, a ten years old boy named Zion Harvey. Now, almost two years after the world first surgery, the boy can use his hand and even hold a baseball bats, according to the new report.
The follow up to this transplant follows just a few days after another team of doctors and specialists revealed their success in conducting a full face transplant.
The Double Hand Transplant Reported as Being an Overall Success, But Not Without its Risks
Zion first started having medical problems as, while still a toddler, he contracted a bacterial infection. This later developed and turned into sepsis. The damage done by this to his feet and hands later required them to be amputated.
Zion also had kidney problems, as his body was struggling to fight the infection. These were solved two years later as he received a partial transplant from his mother. Thanks to the success of the treatment and the boy’s and his family’s resilience, doctors decided to attempt a risky procedure.
Namely, they conducted a bilateral hand and forearm transplantation. The surgery was carried out back in 2015 by surgeons and staff from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Medicine. A team of 40 specialists and assistants are behind this feat. One which required a slightly less than 11 hours long surgery.
“As of 18 months after transplantation surgery he is able to write and feed, toilet and dress himself more independently and efficiently than he could do before transplantation,” concludes the latest report on the boy’s progress.
Zion can even grip a baseball bat, a thing he has been reportedly wishing to do for a year.
Overall, the transplant is a great accomplishment. However, the surgery has nonetheless been taxing on both the boy and his family.
The report states that Zion’s body has had eight episodes of rejection of the new limbs. Anti-rejection medication has since helped avoid any serious consequences. Still, the long road involving psychological and physiotherapy adjustments has been ‘strenous’.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia made a short documentary presenting Zion’s first year of progress. This new report on his state is available in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
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