Before Your Hand Transplant
During your extensive evaluation, we discuss functional outcome, treatment options, risks, alternatives, benefits, and complications, as well as the need for immunosuppressive medication to prevent rejection. If you choose to pursue a hand transplant, multiple tests and screening procedures are necessary.
Blood and Tissue Tests
These tests check blood type and compatibility, assess organ and immune system function, and screen for viruses or infections that could affect your outcome.
We assess your social support and other parameters to understand how well you have dealt with the loss of your limb and the status of your overall well-being.
This evaluation determines the function you currently have in your residual limb.
MRI and X-ray bone scans are performed to evaluate your residual limb.
Involving Your Caregivers
We involve your designated caregivers -- family members or friends -- from the time of your first evaluation. We educate them about their important role in caring for you after your hand transplant.
Preparing for Your Hand Transplant
All hand transplant candidates participate in transplant education to help you and your caregivers learn about the process, the medications you need to take, and the recovery process.
Waiting for Your Hand Transplant
You will be notified when a suitable donor hand is available. Donors for a limb have been donors of other organs as well. If you live outside of the Durham area, our team can assist you in gathering the resources and support you need.
After Your Hand Transplant
Preventing Organ Rejection
Although organ rejection happens after transplants, we use innovative strategies and research to prevent rejection and injury. We provide you and your caregivers resources and support to help you live a healthy life after transplantation. Our team is always available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Our rehabilitation therapy specialists start working with you almost immediately after your surgery and will continue to provide intensive therapy designed to maximize the functional outcome of your new hand or hands. We help you adapt to the feeling and function of your new hand or hands and teach you to use them for everyday activities. You will wear different splints or braces for at least one year to protect your new hand while you are undergoing therapy.
You and your loved ones will be able to speak with other transplant recipients and their families, ask questions, and share information about issues related to the transplant experience.
Hand Transplantation Expertise
Leader in Vascularized Allotransplantation (VCA)
Duke’s hand transplant program is headed by one of the world’s leaders in vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA), an innovative method of transplanting multiple tissues -- such as those of a hand -- as a functional unit. Our hand transplant surgeon is trained in microsurgery, hand surgery, and transplant surgery and participated in the establishment of the first hand transplant program in the U.S. Our lead surgeon also participates in the development of guidelines for the safe implementation of VCA in the U.S.
Active Research Team
Our hand transplantation team conducts research that is helping doctors understand how to minimize rejection, develop new immunosuppressive therapy approaches, and diagnose skin rejection and other tissues' responses following a transplant. Our basic, clinical, and translational (meaning how we apply our lab research to patient care) research guides our systematic approach to hand transplantation.