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World's first successful double hand transplant for scleroderma performed in UK

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By Tokunbo Salako  with AP
Double hand transplant
Double hand transplant   -   Copyright  Euronews and AP   -  

Doctors in the UK have become the first to successfully perform a double hand transplant on a patient who suffered from the autoimmune disease scleroderma.

After a 12-hour operation overseen by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, roof tiler Steven Gallagher, 48, from Ayrshire in southwest Scotland, is now pain free.

Double hand transplants are very complex but becoming more commonplace. This was the first time the surgery was performed to treat scleroderma, a painful condition affecting the nose, mouth and fingers.

Gallagher suffered from the disease for 13 years. Five months on from the operation, thanks to regular physiotherapy and monitoring, his condition has improved so much he is now hoping to return to work.

The trust's Professor Simon Kay at Leeds General Infirmary told Euronews: “The surgery is very complex and very long. But we have done quite a lot of these now. It is a well-orchestrated operation involving a very large team. I lead the team but it is a team of experts. They work very well together."

He added: "I think you can appreciate the complexity, beginning with an operation on each hand, and an operation on each of the donor’s hands, which means four separate surgical teams."