It was just announced today that 8-year old Zion Harvey became the world’s youngest recipient of a double hand transplant earlier this month. The surgery took place at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and was led by director L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS.
I found the story inspiring, but was not overly impressed with the science. We have read about a few dozen successful double hand transplant cases in recent years, so this was not a total surprise. Moreover, I have covered numerous other medical miracles in my once-a-month brief updates posts on this blog. e.g., a full scalp and skull transplant.
Most organ transplant cases are no longer a big surprise to me, even though they probably should be.
The Zion Harvey Story
Then I read that little Zion also has prosthetic legs. Apparently, he lost both his hands and feet at the age of 2 due to a sepsis infection. Then I read that he also had a kidney transplant from his mother at the age of 4 after two years of dialysis! This now makes this whole story an absolute miracle. After I saw the below videos on Zion, I had no choice but to immediately write a post about him, even though I never write two blog posts in one day.
In Zion’s case, acquiring donor hands that were a match was challenging and took some time. The surgical team had to consider factors such as blood type, size, skin color and gender. Dr. Levin estimated that no more than 15 potential donors per year are available in the US for such requests.
A three-year update from 2014 on the world’s first double hand transplant recipient is quite encouraging. An article on early stage prosthesis from the late 1800s was also published three days ago and is worth a read. Compare with prosthetics of today and we really do have a bionic revolution coming.
Also check out the new update from August 26, 2015.