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Rare Hand Transplant Performed

March 24, 2009

A ground breaking operation means a Marine who was hurt in a training accident may be able to again use his fingers after undergoing a hand transplant.

Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee headed up a team that performed the surgery March 14th-15th at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“For a hand, it takes quite some time to get full movement,” said spokeswoman Amy Dugas Rose. “He has some movement, which is a good sign.”

The 24 year old man still must undergo a bone marrow infusion to reduce the need for traditional anti-rejection drugs.

Little details are being released on the Marine that will undergo intense daily physical therapy for three months to gain movement.

The surgery is only the sixth hand transplant in U.S. history. The other five happened at Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Center of Louisville, Ky.

The first U.S. hand transplant was performed in January 1999 on Matthew David Scott, of New Jersey, who lost his hand in December 1985 in an M-80 blast.

Finding donors is tough, according to Rose, because tissue, blood type, gender, size and skin tone all must match.

Surgery can last eight to 10 hours as doctors attach two major arteries, veins and repair multiple tendons and nerves.

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