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First Hand Transplant in North Carolina

By Sarah Avery
June 08, 2016

The first hand transplant surgery in North Carolina was performed by Duke surgeons on Rene Chavez of Laredo, TX, whose hand was severed in a childhood accident. The 12-hour operation took place May 27, 2016.

New Hand Transplant Clinical Trial

The highly complex procedure was performed by a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, operating room staff and technicians, and was led by Linda Cendales, MD, director of Duke’s hand transplant program. 

The hand transplant marks the inauguration of a clinical trial at Duke to determine the safety and efficacy of hand transplantation and the efficacy of a new anti-rejection drug called belatacept.

Patient Is Doing Well

“This is an exciting time for our patient, his family, and Duke,” Cendales said. “The patient is doing very well and is recovering from his surgery. He is excited about the possibilities that await him as he continues his rehabilitation.”

First hand transplant recipient in North Carolina at Duke

Grateful to the Donor

Chavez, 54, was flown to Duke on May 26 after a deceased donor was identified as a match (the donor remains anonymous). A construction worker and automobile dealer, Chavez became one of fewer than 90 people worldwide who have received a transplanted hand.

“I am so grateful to the family of the donor and I want them to know I will do all I can to honor their loved one,” Chavez said, adding that he feels he has already had some sensation in the new limb. Chavez lost his dominant, left hand at the age of 4 when he reached into a meat grinder and his brother accidently turned on the power. 

Learn More About Hand Transplantation at Duke
Hand Transplant