Lending Hands: Man Who Lost Hands Gets a New Set From a Brain Dead Woman

After 4 years, Civil Engineer Venkatesan has a new pair of hands. The transplanted hands doctors say would be functional in a year.

It’s a new beginning for 24 year old Civil Engineer Venkatesan from Kancheepuram who has received a new set of hands by “bilateral hand transplant”. Four years ago he lost both his hands in a terrible high voltage accident after he came into contact with a live wire.

After waiting for nearly four years registering for organ transplant, a noble gesture by the family of a brain dead lady in Ahmedabad to donate her hands in May this year  has given him new hands.  Venkatesan is on intense physiotherapy and doctors at the Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai where the transplant was performed say his hands would be functional in a year. Dr Selva SeethaRaman, Director and Senior Consultant, Institute of Plastic, Aesthetic  & Reconstructive Surgery told tellmystory.in “The nerve regenerates at the rate of 1 MM a day. For him, from the site of nerve repair to the finger tip it’s around 30 cm. It may approximately take around 300 days.”

When the organ donation was confirmed, one team of doctors rushed to Ahmedabad to harvest donor’s hands and another team of doctors started surgical procedure on Venkatesan to receive the hands. It took a 1800 KM long flight for the harvested hands to reach Chennai. With the help of police in both cities, doctors say their plan worked with precision.

The transplant procedure was 16 hours long. “We have to join multiple structures including muscle, bone tendon and nerve. Since this is a bilateral muscle transfer, the work is double and we need that much of experts working simultaneously. Our team had eight plastic surgeons, eight orthopaedicians, five anaesthetists, one vascular surgeon and a team of thirty paramedical staff assisting us” said Dr Selva. “The nerves and blood vessels are very important structures, we joined them using very fine suture materials thinner than the hair” he added.

On compatibility Dr Selva says “Donation of hands is gender neutral. A male’s hands could be transplanted for a female and vice versa. Blood group ought to match. We hope he would be able to do his regular chores by himself on recovery.”

Tamil Nadu leads in organ donation. Many of the systems and practices launched by the state are being emulated at the national level with a high level of transparency and fairness in allotment. It was Chennai Police who first introduced green corridor to help organs reach hospitals in the shortest possible time either within the city or between cities or from the airport to hospital. This successful procedure is being seen as yet another feather in the cap of the state.


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