Zion Harvey's hand transplant makes him the youngest child ever to receive a double-hand transplant. The 8-year-old Baltimore boy had lost both hands to a serious infection, but now an 11-hour operation has given them back.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, a woman met the man who received her brother's face as part of a face transplant operation. Doctors are also planning the first ever human head transplant in 2017, but some are skeptical it is possible.
It turns out Zion Harvey's hand transplant took place earlier in July, but doctors did not make the announcement until this week.
"This surgery was the result of years of training, followed by months of planning and preparation by a remarkable team," said Dr. Scott Levin, according to Science Daily.
"The success of Penn's first bilateral hand transplant on an adult, performed in 2011, gave us a foundation to adapt the intricate techniques and coordinated plans required to perform this type of complex procedure on a child. CHOP is one of the few places in the world that offer the capabilities necessary to push the limits of medicine to give a child a drastically improved quality of life."Levin says Zion "woke up smiling" and has not complained or cried despite the grueling procedure. Zion Harvey's hand transplant required a 40-person medical team to work for 11 hours. First they used steel plates to connect the bones together, and then they connected together all of the arteries, veins, muscles, tendons, and nerves within the two new hands.
The history behind Zion Harvey's hand transplant surgery is a terror to any parent. As a toddler, little Zion contracted sepsis and the resulting multiple organ failure required the amputation of both his hands and feet. At only the age of four, the poor child needed a kidney transplant, but this was actually a good thing since it made him a suitable double hand transplant since he was already taking medications to ensure his body's immune system does not reject the new body parts.
Regardless of all these medical problems, the little boy was very active before the double hand transplant. Leg prosthetics at least allowed him to walk, run and jump, but Zion wanted to throw a football and play on the monkey bars.
"It was no more of a risk than a kidney transplant," Zion's mother, Pattie Ray, said, according to the Associated Press. "So I felt like I was willing to take that risk for him, if he wanted it — to be able to play monkey bars and football."
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia also announced they would not charge extra for the double hand transplant. The family will not be liable for any costs beyond that which may be covered by medical insurance, an extra bonus that left Zion grateful.
"I want to say to you guys, thank you for helping me through this bumpy road," he said.
[Image via The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia]