World’s first paediatric hand transplant program begins

Washington, June 18 (IANS) A US hospital has announced that it is looking for kids for the world’s first paediatric hand transplant program.

Boston Children’s Hospital said in a statement on its website that the research-based program will offer bi-lateral hand transplants for children living without two functioning hands, reported Xinhua.

Potential subjects for the hand transplant program will be children who are over 10 and “in good overall health” but have been missing both hands for one or more years, the hospital said.

Children who are missing one hand but are already on immunosuppression medication for a functioning solid organ transplant, or missing one hand and the other hand is poorly functioning, will also be considered, it said.

Because the hand transplant program is currently part of a research study, the hospital said it will cover the costs of all pre-transplant screenings and tests, the procedure itself, and the first three months of post-operative care.

“It has been shown in adults that hand transplants can be safe and effective; the time is right to bring this to a younger population,” William Harmon, medical director of the program, said in the statement.

“We know from experience that kids can regenerate nerves better than adults and believe that their immature immune systems can learn to adapt to a transplant successfully.”

Hand transplants are a new medical procedure, most of which are being done as part of research protocols. To date, only one hand transplant has occurred in a child: a twin-to-twin transplant in Malaysia in which one twin passed away and one of the twin’s arms was used to replace a missing limb in the surviving twin. There have been no transplants from a donor to a genetically different paediatric patient.

The first hand transplant in the US was performed in 1999, and since then over 50 have been done on adults worldwide.

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