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First Hand Transplant Recipient in NC Gains Use of New Hand (Video)

By Shawn Rocco September 09, 2016
Rene Chavez, 55, stacks blocks during occupational therapy for his newly transplanted left hand and forearm on August 25, 2016.

Rene Chavez, 55, stacks blocks during occupational therapy for his newly transplanted left hand and forearm on August 25, 2016.

On May 27th, Duke doctors performed the first-of-its-kind hand transplant surgery in North Carolina on 54-year-old Rene Chavez.

Gaining Use of New Hand

Led by hand transplant surgeon Dr. Linda Cendales, MD, two teams worked to attach a donor hand and forearm onto the left arm of Chavez, who lost his hand in an accident when he was four-years-old., Chavez, who lives in Laredo, Texas, is now participating in daily four-hour occupational therapy sessions and gaining the use of his new left hand. 

There Have Been No Complications

Three months after his surgery, Duke hand transplant surgeon Dr. Linda Cendales, MD, said, "there have been no complications. He has not presented any rejection episode either. Everything has been going as planned."

"What has life been life with two hands?" asked a reporter at a recent press conference. In Spanish, then translated to English by a translator, Chavez responded, "I'm happy. I'm discovering everything that I can do with my hand. Little by little and slowly I am discovering every day new things that I can do with my hand. And that's been changing my life. There are many things I thought would never happen and they are happening now. I am happy about that. 

Chavez and his wife will be returning to Texas. He will come back to Duke for regular follow-up visits to monitor his progress.

Rene Chavez, 54, does strength exercises during occupational therapy for his newly transplanted left hand and forearm on August 25, 2016.

Rene Chavez, 54, does strength exercises during occupational therapy for his newly transplanted left hand and forearm on August 25, 2016.

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Hand Transplantation