UK man receives the first double hand transplant

Chris King said the result is better than winning the lottery

UK man receives the first double hand transplant

Chris King | Image: Danny Lawson / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A man in the UK has become the first recipient of a double hand transplant.

57-year-old Chris King lost both of his hands, except the thumbs, in a work accident involving a metal pressing machine three years ago.

In the last few days King underwent a 12-hour operation, carried out by a team of eight surgeons, at Leeds General Infirmary.

The exact date of the procedure has not been released so that the donor can remain anonymous.

King said he has spent the past three years adapting parts of his life so he could manage without his hands, including velcro shirts and a specially-made bicycle.

He also returned to work at his previous job at Eaton Lighting in Doncaster, where he said the firm had been brilliant.

"They just took me in and said: 'Chris, we'll find something for you to do'."

Before picture of Chris King's left hand | Image: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Tru / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Following the accident he visited doctors in Sheffield, who talked about possible reconstructive surgery, but King felt there was a better solution out there.

He was then referred to consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay who introduced him to Mark Cahill, the first person to have a single hand transplant in the UK in 2012.

Cahill encouraged him to have the transplant and the two are now good friends.

Speaking after the surgery, King said the result is "better than a lottery win because you feel whole again".

He is already starting to have some movement, adding: "My blood's going through them, my tendons are attached.

"They're mine - they really are."

He said he is now looking forward to holding a can of beer properly, gardening with his ride-on mower, trimming the hedge and even just shaking hands when meeting people.

The brother of the donor issued a statement on behalf of the family:

"Our brother was a kind, caring and considerate person who would have given the shirt off his back to help somebody in need.

"Obviously, we are devastated by our loss but we know that our brother would have been proud to have played a part in saving and transforming so many people's lives.

"We are pleased that the double hand transplant operation was able to go ahead, and all of our family send our best wishes to the recipient."

Consultant Plastic Surgeon Prof. Simon Kay and Chris King | Image: Danny Lawson / PA Wire/Press Association Images

In reference to the donor, Chris King said it was like someone putting an arm around him saying "you'll be alright".

He also called for more people to become donors.

"Even if you don't have a [donor] card, just have a conversation with your family. There's no greater gift."

Professor Kay said that people have been slow to donate because hand transplantation is such an unusual thing.

"We've certainly had many opportunities to ask for donations that haven't been given - I think that's entirely understandable.

"I think, now that hand transplantation is a reality and people can see the good it does, I hope they'll consider making that donation as readily as they do a liver and kidney and heart and lungs."

Kay's team is now hoping to perform between two and four hand transplant operations a year and there are already four people on the waiting list.

Additional reporting by IRN