A hospital in southern Turkey yesterday performed the world's first triple-limb transplant, attaching two arms and a leg to a 34-year-old man, an official said. At the same time, a team of doctors at Akdeniz University Hospital, in the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, also transplanted the face of the same donor on to another patient – a man aged 19. It was Turkey's first face transplant.
Dr Israfil Kurtcephe, the university hospital's rector, told reporters: "Today, we have put our signature on a world first. For the first time a hospital has transplanted two arms and a leg on one patient."
Dr Omer Ozkan, who headed a 25-strong team, said both patients were in the intensive care unit and were "doing well". The full face transplant lasted some nine hours, while the limb transplants took 12 hours.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said Atilla Kavdir, the 34-year-old receiving the limbs, lost his arms and right leg when he was 11 after he hit power lines outside his home with an iron rod to scare away pigeons and received an electric shock. The teenage face-transplant recipient was burned in a house fire when he was a baby. The limbs and face became available early yesterday and the hospital began the operation at 3:15 am, Anadolu said.
The world's first double-arm transplant took place in Germany in 2008, while the first double-leg transplant was carried out in Spain in July 2011. More than a dozen face transplants have been carried out around the world, starting in November 2005 with a French woman who was mauled by her dog. The first face transplant in the United States took place in December 2008.