Iraqi man gets woman’s hands at Amrita Hospital, Kochi

New Delhi/Faridabad September 15, 2022: A patient from Iraq who lost both his hands due to electric shock has successfully undergone bilateral hand transplant at Amrita Hospital in Kochi, with limbs harvested from a donor who died in a road accident in Kerala.

Yousif Hasan Saeed Al Zuwaini, a 29-year-old interior construction worker from Baghdad and a father of two daughters, met with an accident in April 2019 when he was drilling a wall. The driller unexpectedly came into contact with a concealed high-voltage electric cable, electrocuting him instantly. He was rushed to a local hospital where doctors had to amputate both his hands from the elbow to save his life. It was a devastating turn of events for Yousif, the sole breadwinner of his family.

Six months after the accident, Yousif arrived at Amrita Hospital in Kochi to know more about the hand transplant procedure. “I had heard a lot about Amrita Hospital from doctors in Iraq as one of the very few hospitals in Asia where hand transplants are conducted. It was my only ray of hope of getting my life back,” he said.

In July 2021, Yousif registered with the Kerala Organ Sharing Registry called KNOS as an organ recipient waiting for organ transplantation. The news he was waiting for came in February 2022. A 39-year-old woman, Ambily, hailing from Alappuzha in Kerala, met with a traffic accident. She was rushed to Amrita Hospital in Kochi where she was declared brain dead. Her family readily agreed to donate her organs, including the hands, for those in need.

After a pair of hands were harvested for transplantation from Ambily, the patient Yousif was rushed to Amrita Hospital on February 2, 2022, where Dr. Subramania Iyer and Dr. Mohit Sharma led a team of 20 surgeons and 10 anesthetists to successfully transplant both the limbs in a marathon surgery that lasted 16 hours.

Said Dr. Subramania Iyer, Professor & Head, Centre for Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Kochi: “Both the hands had to be fixed at the forearm level. Some blood vessels were difficult to connect to. This was solved by using grafts. The patient was discharged three weeks later and is doing fine now.”

Said the patient Yousif Hasan: “This is like second birth for me. I look forward to leading a normal life. It was devastating for me to lose both my hands even before my 30th birthday. I see a ray of hope now that I will be able to provide for my family and take up a job again. I thank the doctors of Amrita Hospital from the bottom of my heart.”

Added Dr. Mohit Sharma, Professor, Centre for Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Kochi: “The patient needs to take immunosuppression lifelong so that the new hands are not rejected by their body. It will take time for the nerves to grow and function. He also needs to undergo intensive physiotherapy, including muscle stretching, for another year before they slowly start regaining function of their transplanted hands.”

Amrita Hospital pioneered hand-transplants in India by conducting the country’s first such transplant on a 30-year-old man, Manu, in January 2015, with the surgery team led by Dr. Subramania Iyer. A total of 11 patients have received bilateral hand transplants at Amrita Hospital so far.

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