Patient lied to get new hand

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The Independent Online
THE WORLD'S first hand-transplant patient lied his way to his operation in France last month, it has emerged.

Clint Hallam, a New Zealander living in Australia, told an Australian surgeon his hand was severed by a power saw on a building site; in fact, it happened while he was in prison for fraud. Then, on the day he was to fly to France for the operation, Mr Hallam, 48, said he had forgotten to renew his passport. Medical authorities appealed for emergency travel documents. Later they found the passport had been impounded by a court in Perth, where Mr Hallam faces legal proceeding for passing dud cheques.

Earl Owen, joint leader of the operating team, told Le Monde: "Our transplant patient is a lovable rascal who took advantage of me from the first day. He is a very talented liar." Mr Hallam also gave the paper his first extensive interview since the operation but did not comment on his past. From his hospital bed in Lyons, where he is said to be recovering well, he said he had had no psychological problems adjusting to his new right hand. "I look at it every morning when I wake up and every time I see a miracle."

He said he badgered medical teams around the world to graft a new hand on to his arm.

The operation has been criticised by other surgeons, who say there is only a slim chances the hand will work properly. Such a small chance does not justify the risks run by Mr Hallam, who will have to take drugs to suppress his immune system for the rest of his life. Dr Owen retorted: "Do you think I would put 35 years of my career and an international reputation at risk if I didn't think I would succeed?"

The success of the transplant will not be known for 18 months to two years.