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NHS to perform hand transplants

Friday January 29th, 2016

The NHS in England is to offer hand and upper arm transplants, it was announced today.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been selected to lead the surgery and it will now begin to assess suitable adult candidates so that it can begin to perform the highly-complex procedure from April.

The centre, headed up by consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, who successfully performed the UK’s first hand transplant in 2012, will accept suitable patients from around the country.

Over the next five years, he and his team will work with hand and wrist consultant Mr Henk Giele at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The service in Oxford will undertake assessments and non-surgical elements of follow-up care.

Prof Simon Kay said: “We are delighted to be confirmed as the provider of this new service. The extensive multi-professional expert team here at Leeds is keen to now assess new patient referrals and benefit patients and their families in a way they may never have thought possible before.

“The Leeds unit has an existing surgical service which can now continue with NHS England support. Oxford has an existing organ transplantation service and strong track record in research in this area.”

Because of the specific type of matching that is needed for this type of transplant and the complex nature of the procedure, patients will be carefully screened for psychological and physical suitability.

NHS Blood and Transplant will work closely with the Leeds team to identify possible donors for those accepted for surgery, focusing on blood group, skin tone and hand size.

And because the option to choose to donate limbs is not recorded on the NHS Organ Donation Register, specific permission will be sought from the families of potential donors after their death.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, NHS England’s director of specialised commissioning, said: “The NHS is leading the world in offering this cutting edge procedure, which has been shown to significantly improve the quality of life for patients who meet the strict criteria.

“We will be working closely with Professor Kay and his colleagues at Leeds, as well as NHS Blood and Transplant, to ensure that this highly innovative service for the NHS can get up and running as soon as possible.”

About 80 hand transplants have been performed worldwide and success rates have been high. NHS England expects between two and four patients a year will be listed for hand and upper arm transplant surgery.

Tags: General Health | NHS | Transplant | UK News

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