Give This Man a Hand

  • Share
  • Read Later
Forget, for a moment, the hubbub about human cloning. French surgeons on Wednesday wrote another page of science fiction into the medical books by sewing a dead man's hand onto a living patient. A multinational team of doctors working in Lyon spent three and a half hours transplanting the hand and part of an arm from a brain-dead donor to a 48-year-old Austrialian businessman who lost his lower arm in a logging accident almost a decade ago. [Ed. Note: In a bizarre twist, it was later reported that the patient actually lost his limb using a circular saw while incarcerated in a New Zealand jail.] Unlike earlier attempts to replace extremities, this operation involved the reconnection of dozens of tendons, nerves and veins. The physicians were competing with surgeons in Louisville, Ky., who went out on a limb in July when they announced that they expected to perform the first such operation by year's end. It remains to be seen whether the patient's body will reject the transplant. Even then, it could be a year or more before he gains enough control over his new limb to shake his doctors' hands.