Fewer than 100 people in the world have received hand transplants. The head of our hand transplant program participated in the first two hand transplants performed in the U.S., in 1999 and 2001. Since then, fewer than 30 hand transplants have been performed in the U.S. Our comprehensive approach guides our research on hand transplantation, which remains an investigational procedure. It is an option for people who have lost one or both hands.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
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 learn 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 led 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.
Federally Funded 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.
Currently Recruiting for Clinical Trial
We are currently recruiting people to participate in a study to determine the safety and efficacy of hand transplantation as a treatment for people with loss of limb below the elbow. You may be a candidate for evaluation if you have lost a limb, are between the ages of 18 and 65, and are willing to travel to Duke.
Team of Dedicated Specialists
We work with many Duke specialists in the fields of transplantation, orthopaedics, hand surgery, microsurgery, plastic surgery, immunology, and anesthesiology. Our team also includes mental health and rehabilitation specialists, specially trained nurses, and support staff. Together, we help you through the process from the beginning, minimize your risk of rejection, and help you work toward the best possible outcome.
Support for the Future
Learning to live with a transplanted limb is an ongoing process that includes extensive physical and occupational therapy, mental health support, and social work services. We support you as you adapt to the feeling and function of your new hand or hands.