N.B. Nair | Indian Science Journal
Kochi (May 17) ? As 32-year-old ex-Army captain Abdul Rahim from Kandahar stood in folded hands, Francisca Joseph and her school-going daughter Aleesha Joseph had tears of joy, despite the loss of Francisca?s husband, as his limbs continues to live on an Afghan national. Her 54-year-old husband T.G. Joseph from Eloor, near Kochi died in a motor-cycle accident in April. As Joseph remained brain dead after the accident with no chances of survival, doctors at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre convinced the family to donate his limbs to Rahim, who had been waiting for several months for a donor.
?Thank you Mrs Jospeh, thank you doctors, thank you India,? said Rahim as he spoke in Pushtu, struggling to use a couple of English words in between at a media conference on Saturday (May 16) at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences alongwith the team of surgeons and Francisca and her immediate family members.
This is perhaps the first case of twin-hand transplant on any citizen in Afghanistan and the second in India. Several thousands of Afghan nationals, including security personnel are maimed in mine blasts in the war-torn country. Rahim too lost both his hands during a de-mining operation in 2012 in Kandahar province.
The transplant was carried out on April 10 in a marathon surgical feat lasting for almost 15 hours with more than 20 surgeons and eight anaesthetics participating in the procedure.
?Rahim has regained considerable amount of function of both his hands using them for day-to-day activities. He will need intensive physiotherapy for another 9 to 10 months, for which he will have to stay back in Kochi,? said Dr. Subramania Iyer, Professor and Head of the Plastic Surgery department. ?Each hand required connecting two bones, two arteries, four veins and about 14 tendons. The immune suppressant drugs were started before the start of the surgery and continued after it.?
India?s first twin-hand transplant was also done at Amrita Institute and the recipient, 30-year-old Manu is progressing extremely well, doing all routine activities.
Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences has been in the forefront of organ transplant in India and has already done 885 cases, including two twin hand transplants, a rare pancreas and kidney, small bowel and two liver and kidney transplants.
Dr. Iyer said, the hospital now receives requests from all over India and many countries abroad, especially from Arabian countries for hand transplants. ?We have been highly selective even in counselling since our experience is limited,? he said.
Image courtesy: Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi