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Mexican man receives double-arm transplant

posted 8 Jun 2012, 16:17 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Jun 2012, 16:18 ]

Mexican man recovering well after groundbreaking double-arm transplant operation, the first in Latin America.

Mexican doctors said on Thursday (June 07) they had performed Latin America's first double arm transplant on a patient whose hands were badly burned by electricity.
Fifty-two-year-old Gabriel Grenados, a member of the Mexico City Prosecutor's Office financial unit, was badly injured at a construction site in January 2011. The surgery took place in May, but Grenados was released on Thursday after only 20 days in hospital.

Showing off his new limbs, Grenados told reporters he still has a long road to recovery ahead.

"Basically with a lot of patience to go through all the therapy needed that is coming up and the support of the medics which has been very good. They all looked after me so that I would get better and better," he said.

Although his hospital stay is over, Grenados is expected to continue a long and costly course of medication and rehabilitation.

"I know that they (medications) will be expensive, I don't know how things will turn out but they are giving their support. I will evaluate what medication they tell me to buy and more and fortunately we were were preparing ourselves for this day. We are moving forward bit by bit," he said.

The operation was a first for Latin America. Doctors in the country found a rare match in size, shape, colour and blood-type for the patient.

Surgeons practised on corpses to prepare for surgery.

The head of the surgical unit which performed the operation, Dr. Martin Iglesias, said it would be a challenge to get full functionality in the arms but doctors were committed to achieving the best results possible.

"When the results are good, we've got about 95 percent functionality. It is a bit pretentious but we're working towards 100 percent and we're going to fight for 100 percent. When we get to two years and we're not at 100 (percent), we will still keep on fighting because with this transplant there is the option of a re-implant. A re-implant is when you amputate the arm and attach in again, it has 1-2 years maximum to get it functioning. A transplant, like in this case from a donor, keeps on getting better, the capacity for regeneration does not stop. The experience (in transplants) in the world up to now, which is about 12 years, is that year by year this patient will show more functionality," he said.

Grenados received the arms of a 34-year old who was killed in a shooting.

According to doctors, more than twenty other patients are waiting for arm transplants in the country, however, only a small number will find a successful match for their bodies.