In December 2020, Sahlgrenska University Hospital became the first hospital in the Nordic countries to perform a double hand transplant. Now, a year later, the patient is able to open a screw cap as well as using a mobile phone, and the positive progress continues on.

Photographer: Johanna Ewalds St Michaels Fotograf/Källa: Johanna Ewalds St Michaels

The transplant was carried out during an 18-hour operation by a large team at the hand surgery clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and involved the transfer of two hands from an organ donor to a patient who had lost both hands several years ago following a severe infection.

The transplant was completed successfully thanks to a long and close collaboration between the hospital's transplant, anesthesia/surgery and rehabilitation departments.

The patient has had her one-year check-up at the hospital and has spent a week seeing occupational therapists and physiotherapists, neurologists, hand surgeons and transplant doctors.

– One year after the surgery, I can see that the recovery of hand function has exceeded our expectations. Our patient has been an ideal candidate for this operation as she has been extremely strong and motivated to regain the independence she lost years ago. Motor and sensory function has improved constantly during these months, and this is thanks to the deep collaboration and support of our university hospital and to all the dedicated people in our team. The patient and all of us are all deeply grateful to the donor family for giving our patient a chance to improve her quality of life, says Paolo Sassu, senior physician in hand surgery at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, MD and lead physician during the transplant.

– I can't pick one thing because there are so many things that have improved. I can feel the touch of my grandchildren, I feel more complete physically, my quality of life is much better. During this year my grip has improved and my hands continue to develop. I’ve gotten to know many fantastic people. I’m very happy, says the patient.

– The successful double hand transplant has led to an increased confidence in the entire clinic. We are proud that we were able to do the teamwork that was required, you can't do that in many other places than Sahlgrenska University Hospital, says Per Fredrikson, specialist in orthopedics and specialist doctor in hand surgery, who also developed the technique used to join the skeletal bones between the patient's and donor's forearms.

The operation made Sahlgrenska University Hospital the only center for hand surgery in the Nordic countries with the expertise to perform double hand transplants, as well as implementing permanent robotic arms on amputee patients.
– To be able to perform this type of advanced procedure is a mark of quality for Sahlgrenska University Hospital as an organization and for all the staff working here, says Paolo Sassu. 


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Sveriges största sjukhus

Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset är Sveriges största sjukhus och ett av de större universitetssjukhusen i Europa. På Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset finns kompetensen att utföra de allra mest avancerade behandlingar och ingrepp som dagens medicinska utveckling tillåter. Med Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset har västsvenskarna nära till avancerad sjukvård som även efterfrågas nationellt och internationellt.

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Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhusets presstjänst

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Anders Goliger


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