12- year- long struggle of a Rajasthan Man comes to an end with successful Bilateral Hand Transplants
In a remarkable medical breakthrough, a 33-year-old man from Rajasthan has become the first person from Asia to undergo a successful Bilateral Total Arm Transplant. Mr Prema Ram, who tragically lost both his hands in an electric accident 12 years ago, can now dare to dream of leading an independent life, thanks to the skilled team of doctors at Gleneagles Hospital in Mumbai.
The groundbreaking surgery, led by Dr Nilesh G Satbhai, Head of the Department of Plastic, Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery and Transplant Surgery, lasted a gruelling and complex 16 hours. Mr Prema Ram's hope for functional hands was rekindled as the medical team meticulously Transplanted donor limbs that matched his hand colour and size. This historic achievement marks the first Bilateral Total Arm Transplant in Asia, surpassing previous successful surgeries performed in Europe.
Mr Prema Ram's journey began with an unfortunate accident in which he came into contact with a live electric pole while working in the field. His hands suffered severe electric burns, leading doctors to recommend Amputation to save his life. Despite efforts to obtain artificial limbs and prostheses, they were unable to provide him with fully functional hands. His Amputations occurred at the shoulder level, making him more disabled and dependent than those who lose their hands below the elbow. Fortunately, Mr Prema Ram's determination and resilience kept him going, as he pursued his education and held onto the hope of one day finding a solution.
The possibility of a Hand Transplant at the shoulder level was deemed almost impossible in India at the time. Mr Prema Ram's father even explored the option of Hand Transplant Surgery in Europe, but the cost proved prohibitive for the family. However, his search for a solution led him to learn about the successful Hand Transplants performed at Gleneagles Hospital in Mumbai, prompting him to register there in October 2022.
Dr Nilesh G Satbhai, the visionary surgeon behind the groundbreaking operation, highlighted the challenges of performing a Hand Transplant at such a proximal level. Timing and coordination were critical to ensuring the limbs were attached to the body as early as possible, allowing for immediate blood circulation due to the transfer of a large number of muscles. Performing this intricate surgery on both sides added further technical and logistical complexities.
The surgery, conducted on February 9, lasted for 16 hours and proceeded without complications. Following the procedure, Mr Prema Ram remained under close observation in the hospital for four weeks before being discharged on March 9th. His journey to recovery began with shoulder physiotherapy, which will continue for the next 18-24 months. With a positive outlook, Mr Prema Ram is expected to regain reasonable hand function within 18 months.
Reflecting on his challenging journey, Mr Prema Ram expressed his initial devastation and the struggles he faced every day after losing his hands. He relied on the support of his brothers and family members for his daily chores but refused to give up. Determined to lead a normal life, he developed innovative ways to accomplish tasks independently, such as using his legs to hold objects and establishing a grip. Despite his disability, Mr Prema Ram completed his education and recently passed his B.Ed exams. Grateful to his family, doctors, and the entire team at Gleneagles Hospital, Mumbai for giving him new hands, he believes that nothing is impossible in this world. With great joy, he eagerly anticipates his healing journey and the ability to perform everyday tasks on his own.
Dr Vivek Talaulikar, COO of IHH Healthcare India & CEO of Gleneagles Hospital, Mumbai, emphasized the limited functionality provided by artificial hands and highlighted the importance of Hand Transplants in allowing amputees to regain useful hand function and live a normal life. Gleneagles Hospital, Parel, a leading Transplant Center in Mumbai and Western India, is equipped with cutting-edge technology and performs innovative procedures for patients. Driven by their recent achievement, the hospital aims to continue performing life-saving Transplants, fulfilling the dreams of recipients, and creating an impact by encouraging Hand Donations and participation in the Organ Donation movement.
Acknowledging the efforts of the entire medical team, Mr Anurag Yadav, CEO of IHH Healthcare India, praised their commitment to taking on challenging and complex cases. Mumbai has witnessed a total of eight Hand Transplants to date, with seven of them successfully performed at Gleneagles Hospital. Hand Transplants are often referred to as medical miracles, as they have the potential to transform the lives of amputees who have lost functional use of their limbs. The hospital strives to raise awareness about the significance of Hand Donation, inspiring individuals and families to consider this option when making decisions about Organ Donation. By doing so, they aim to save and improve the lives of many people in need, bringing hope to those yearning for a chance to regain their mobility and independence.
The success of Mr Prema Ram's Bilateral Total Arm Transplant not only represents a significant milestone in medical history but also serves as a beacon of hope for countless others facing similar challenges. This remarkable achievement showcases the power of determination, innovation, and the incredible potential of medical advancements to transform lives.