Second hospital in Mumbai gets nod for hand transplants

KEM already offers procedure, Global Hospital first private facility to get approval.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published:December 1, 2016 2:32 am

Parel-based Global Hospital has become the first private hospital to get the state government’s approval for starting a hand transplant programme.

The intricate procedure, that requires two bones, two arteries, four veins and 14 tendons of the body to be re-attached to a donor’s hand, has been initiated after thorough research at Kochi-based Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center (AIMS), which was the first to foray into twin hand transplantation procedure in India.

Hand transplantation is a complex reconstructive procedure that uses the limb of a brain-dead patient and transplants it onto the recipient’s arm, using a high dose of immuno-suppressants so that the donor’s body does not reject the new limb.

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Global hospital has already received inquiries from five patients for this procedure. For a 24-year-old man (name withheld) residing in Mira Road, the hand transplantation can be a fresh lease of life.

He had to have one hand amputated from the shoulder and the other from mid-forearm after a road accident on a trip with his family. Currently studying in a college at Mira Road, the man has been living with prosthetic limbs for seven years.

“He approached us to know if he was eligible for the transplant. We will scrutinise each patient in detail before adding them on the wait list,” said Dr Nilesh Satbhai, hand and reconstructive microsurgeon at Global hospital.

The procedure can cost anywhere between Rs 15 to 20 lakh. In Maharashtra, KEM became the first government hospital to register for hand transplantation. The hospital has, however, not conducted any such surgery due to lack of awareness.

Global Hospital will now initiate a series of counselling and awareness sessions to find donors and recipients.

According to Dr Vinita Puri, head of plastic surgery department at KEM hospital, the procedure requires a specialised team of plastic surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, general surgeons and post-surgery care specialists for the over 8-to-10 hours surgery.

“There is a need to sensitise people about hand donation, just like for kidney and liver donation. Families of deceased are often unwilling to donate hands as they fear the body gets physically mutilated,” she said.

For deceased donors, a prosthetic limb is attached after their hand is removed.

According to Dr Subramania Iyer, head of plastic surgery at AIMS in Kochi, where he first conducted a hand transplant on a 30-year-old train accident victim in January 2015, not every patient is eligible for a hand transplant.

“We either suggest a transplant at mid fore-arm or mid-arm. The donor and recipient should be compatible. Recipients also require counselling for life-long immunosuppressants,” he said, adding that the process has become common in USA, Europe, China and Australia, but is yet to take off in India.

tabassum.barnagarwala@expressindia.com