Steven Gallagher, 48, had surgery after being diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes scars on the skin and internal organs, 13 years ago
A Brit has described being given a ‘new life’ after a double hand transplant.
Steven Gallagher, 48, was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes scarring of the skin and internal organs, after developing an unusual rash about 13 years ago.
The roofer eventually had to give up his job because his hands clenched into fists and he lived on strong painkillers.
Now he has joined a small number of patients worldwide who have undergone the complex transplant procedure, which carries the risk of the body rejecting the new hands.
Mr Gallagher, from Dreghorn in North Ayrshire, said: “My hands started to close, it got to the point where it was basically just two fists, my hands were useless, I couldn’t do anything but lift things with two hands.
“I couldn’t grab anything, it was a struggle getting dressed and things like that.
“My wife and I talked about it and agreed on it. I could end up losing my hands anyway, so I just had to let them know I was in.
Mr Gallagher had to undergo a psychological assessment to ensure he was prepared for the prospect of a transplant.
He then underwent the 12-hour surgery in mid-December 2021 after a suitable donor was found.
The hand transplant team at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, which performed the operation, said it was the first time in the world that a hand transplant had been used to replace hands terminally affected by scleroderma.
Mr Gallagher said: “After the operation I woke up and it was quite surreal because I had my hands beforehand and when I woke up after the operation I still had hands so in my mind I never really lost hands.
“These hands are incredible, everything happened so quickly. From the moment I woke up from surgery I was able to move it.”
He added: “It breathed new life into me. It’s still difficult for me right now, but with the physio and the occupational therapists it’s getting better every week, everything is only slowly getting better.
“The pain is the greatest. The pain before the surgery was excruciating, I was on so much painkillers it was unbelievable but now I have no pain at all.”
More than five months after surgery, his condition is improving, and while he can’t perform tasks that require great skill, such as unbuttoning buttons, he can do things like pet his dog, turn on the faucet, and fill a glass of water.
He now hopes to return to some type of work once his hands have sufficiently improved and is very grateful to the donor person and family who made the transplant possible.
The operation involved a team of 30 professionals from many disciplines.
Professor Simon Kay of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “This operation has been a tremendous team effort with contributions from our colleagues here in Leeds and in Glasgow.
“A hand transplant is very different from a kidney or other organ transplant because hands are something we see every day and we use them in so many ways.
“For this reason, we and our experienced clinical psychologists assess and prepare patients to ensure they can psychologically cope with the permanent memory of their transplant and the risk of the body rejecting the transplanted hands.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brit-unusual-rash-first-world-27064379 Brit with unusual rash becomes first in world to heal it with DOUBLE hand transplant