'I'm getting slight movement now': Transplant first for Britain as Mark Cahill is given new hand

 

A 51-year-old man has become the first person in the UK to receive a new hand in a pioneering eight-hour transplant operation.

Mark Cahill, of Halifax, underwent the long, complex procedure at Leeds General Infirmary last week after a donor hand that matched his blood type became available.

A shocked Mr Cahill was told on Boxing Day that a donor hand was available and he underwent the procedure a day later in the pioneering operation.

The former pub landlord from Greetland, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, said the move had changed his life.

He told ITV's Daybreak: "Eight o'clock on Boxing Day night we got a phone call saying we may have a donor.

"As you can imagine, the day after Christmas it was quite a shock.

"I'm getting slight movement now, my feeling has just started coming back, but everything's looking very, very good.

"Long term I won't have 100% use of it, but obviously I'm going to have a lot more use than I had with the existing hand.

"I think I've dealt with it pretty well. The only thing you can't do is know what is going to happen after the operation, and as it has turned out it is brilliant. I'm well happy.

"Hopefully I will be able to get back to work for a start, that's a major difference.

"For a start I might be able to cut my food up, button my shirts, fasten a pair of shoelaces, and mainly I'll be able to hold my grandson's hand."

And Mr Cahill told the BBC: "When I look at it and move it, it just feels like my hand.

"Right now it feels really good, it's not a lot of pain, it looks good, it looks a great match and I'm looking forward to getting it working now."

The surgical team, which was led by Professor Simon Kay, an internationally renowned microsurgeon who has reattached dozens of partially severed hands, is thought to have made history by becoming the first to remove a recipient's non-functioning right-hand and transplanting the donor hand in the same surgery. About 60 hand transplants have been carried out successfully around the world but this procedure allowed for a more accurate restoration of nerve structures and a greater chance of success.

This is a potentially critical improvement, as the first man in the world to have a hand transplant later needed it removed. But the new feat is not without ethical concerns. The patient must take immunosuppressant drugs for life, increasing the risk of cancer and infection in the host.

The Yorkshire-based team of surgeons had been planning the procedure since December 2011.

The potential patients went through a series of health checks and psychological assessments to ensure they have carefully considered the implications of the procedure, which whittled down the candidates from six to only two, a spokesman for the hospital said. Mr Cahill, who was one of the two potential recipients chosen last year, suffered from gout from an early age, leaving one hand completely non-functioning and another with only partial movement.

"The team was on standby from the end of November awaiting a suitable donor limb and the call came just after Christmas," Professor Kay said. "It is still early days but indications are good and the patient is making good progress.

"This operation is the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation over the last two years."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?