Chennai: First hand transplant beneficiary discharged

CM gave away appointment order to Narayanaswamy after he was appointed as the ward supervisor of a government hospital in Dindigul.

Chennai: The first hand transplantation programme launched in the state at Stanley Medical College and Hospital seven years ago, the first successful hand transplant was performed on 29-year-old Narayanaswamy from Dindigul and the patient was finally discharged on Monday.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami gave away appointment order to Narayanaswamy after he was appointed as the ward supervisor of a government hospital in Dindigul.

The hand transplantation was done for the first time in a government hospital in Tamil Nadu on February 7, 2018, at Stanley Medical College and Hospital. A team of 70 doctors led by Dr V Ramadevi, head of the plastic surgery department performed the surgery. The surgery that lasted for 13 hours was announced successful after the patient resumed limb functioning to some extent.

A mason by profession, Narayanaswamy lost both hands due to electrocution in 2015. M. Venkatesan, a resident of Manali, who was declared brain dead after a severe brain injury dead was the donor of limbs for Narayanaswamy.

The family of 39-year-old Venkatesan, donated his arms after he succumbed to injuries tripping from the stairs at his house and was declared dead as he could not recover even after an emergency surgery.

The family of the donor agreed to the supreme sacrifice of donating the two hands of the brain dead man that prevented Narayanaswamy from remaining crippled for life. Donors family must have underwent the dual trauma of losing the person and the limbs, however, they chose to challenge the taboo that removing the two hands would mean disfiguring the body, which is against various religious and spiritual beliefs.

Kin of Venkatesan said that they agreed to donate the organs including the hands to benefit another person who can get a better quality of life and have Venkatesan's hands like of his own. In a social system where people believe that disfiguring a body is unacceptable for burying or cremation, the family of the donor should be hailed particularly for breaking the taboo when such a practice and uncommon and they are unaware about it.

"The family agreed to donate the internal organs first, after which, we approached them to donate the hands and informed them about Narayanaswamy who was awaiting a hand transplant. It was not easy to convince the family to donate the hands, as usually the kin of a brain dead person do not want the visible organ of the deceased to be amputated. They hesitated to donate hands initially, but after further counseling, they volunteered to donate the hands also," said Dr Ramadevi.

After a year of surgery, Narayanaswamy can move his hands voluntarily now and will be visiting the Stanley hospital for regular check up every month, she added.

3 TN hospitals registered to perform hand transplant

Only three hospitals in Tamil Nadu are registered to perform hand transplants in Tamil Nadu that includes Stanley Government Medical College and Hospital, Global Health City in Perumbakkam and SRM Institute of Medical Sciences in Vadapalani apart from medical superintendent at Stanley Medical College.

"Hand transplantation remains in the back seat because it is not a life-saving procedure like other organ transplants. Though it can improve the quality of life to a great extent, people have to be made aware on this. The family of a person remains in grief and we approach them first to donate the internal organs, as they are already aware of it. We eventually inform them about the patients awaiting hand transplants and if they are willing to donate, we go ahead with the procedure," says Dr Selva Setharaman, hand transplant and plastic surgeon at Global Health City.

"We have four people in the waiting list for hand transplants, but we have not yet received a donor. Once family of a deceased patient agreed to donate the hands of the patient, but the blood group did not match and we could not do the surgery," added Dr Selva.

A series of counseling sessions are conducted for the family of a deceased that includes examples of previous donors, showing demonstrations of hand transplant surgeries and mentioning the benefits for the recipient.

Doctors say that people need to know that the body does not look mutilated and prosthetic hands replace it. The prosthesis is covered in full hand clothes and gloves so that it does not seem mutilated.

After the first successful hand transplant at a government hospital in the state, there is hope of increased awareness among the people on hand transplantation.

However, hand transplantation programme has not received even a single donor for the same, even after a year of the first transplantation.

Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu (Transtan) has also taken an initiative to counsel and approach the families of brain dead people on hand transplantation also, apart from other internal organs at all government hospitals.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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