French hospital carries out first double arm and shoulder transplant

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A hospital in Lyon, France, says it is the first in the world to carry out a double shoulder and arm transplant. Euro News reports that the patient was a man from Iceland, who is recovering after a 15-hour operation at Edouard-Herriot Hospital.

Medical teams from five different hospitals and clinics were involved in the procedure, said Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL). "To our knowledge (this is) a world first, as previous arm transplants have not included shoulders," an HCL spokesperson is quoted in the report as saying, adding the patient was in a stable condition.


Doctors said it was still uncertain how much mobility Felix Gretarsson, 48, will eventually recover following the operation, reports Gulf News. But "giving a little to somebody who was missing so much, that's already a lot" Aram Gazarian, the lead surgeon in the operation, said.

On 12 January, 1998, Gretarsson, an electrician, was working on a high-voltage power line when an 11,000-volt surge burned his hands and flung him to the icy ground. He sustained multiple fractures and internal injuries, and went into a three-month coma during which surgeons amputated both arms.

He underwent several more operations, including a liver transplant.

The report says when hand transplant pioneer Jean-Michel Dubernard, based in Lyon, visited Reykjavik for a conference, Gretarsson asked him whether it would be possible to replace the lost limbs.

The operation was "his biggest dream", Gretarsson's wife Sylwia is quoted in Gulf News as saying, adding that she herself never felt that the operation was truly necessary as he "wasn't missing anything".

Doctors said the outlook for the right arm to become functional is better than for the left, which had also required a complete rebuild of the shoulder.

No serious complications had been detected nine days after the operation, they said.


Full Euro News report


Full Gulf News report (Open access)

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