25 surgeons from various fields specializing in hand & microsurgery began the nation’s first hand transplantation last Thursday, successfully completing the operation in 10 hours.
The operation was authorized by the donor’s family, who donated the arm of the brain-dead donor to the patient. The patient had lost his arm in an accident, and was operated on from 4 in the afternoon to 1 a.m. The operation took place at Yeungnam University Medical Center in Daegu, South Korea.
Hand transplantation surgery requires the highest level of expertise combined from various fields which includes hand surgery, orthopedic surgery, and transplant surgery. The Ministry of Health and Welfare pointed out the benefits of hand transplantations by saying that “it is a safe and effective new medical technology that improves the quality of life for those with suffering from congenital malformations, injuries, or tumor ablations. At its core, it improves the quality of life by reducing physical handicaps while improving cosmetic appearance.”
Hand transplantation surgery first started in the United States and France in 1999. However, only 70 operations have been conducted worldwide due to its level of difficulty. Korea now becomes the 2nd Asian country to carry out the surgery.
The city of Daegu in particular has actively supported the successful execution of the transplant by designating hand transplantations as the city’s main representative medical skill. The city has since then exerted efforts to gather donors and beneficiaries. However, domestic laws currently do not include the arm as a possible transplant organ, indicating that law reforms must occur in order to foster the growth of hand transplantations in Korea. The director of Yeungnam University Medical Center has asked for continued interest and support from the citizens of Daegu.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>