Los Angeles — Two young women received the nation’s 13th and 14th hand transplants, respectively, during operations in March, the Associated Press reports.
In a procedure that lasted almost 15 hours, a team of nearly 20 surgeons, nurses and support staff grafted a right hand from a deceased donor onto a 26-year-old single mother who had lost hers in a car accident.
Emily Fennell received the donor limb last month at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The transplant was the 13th in the United States but the first for the hospital, which launched its hand-transplant program last year.
Ms. Fennell lost her right hand in a 2006 rollover accident in which her hand went through the open sunroof of the car in which she was a passenger. She had been using a prosthesis but, according to the AP, felt she needed a real hand in order to better care for her young daughter.
The UCLA operation cost about $800,000, but because it was experimental, it was performed at no charge to Ms. Fennell.
A week after the UCLA operation, a surgical team at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital performed the nation’s 14th hand transplant on 21-year-old Linda Lu, whose left hand was amputated when she was an infant due to complications from a rare disease.
More than 40 hand transplants have been performed around the world. The first U.S. hand transplant occurred in 1999, and the recipient is still living with the donor limb.