After months of physical therapy, Duke’s first hand transplant recipient has gained function in his new hand. Mr. Rene Chavez of Laredo, Texas, lost his left hand in an accident when he was 4 years old and underwent a hand transplant at Duke on May 27. In a highly complex, 12-hour procedure, a team of surgeons attached a donor hand and forearm to Mr. Chavez’s left arm.
“I am discovering every day new things that I can do with my hand. And that’s been changing my life.”
-Rene Chavez, Duke hand transplant recipient
The procedure was part of a new clinical trial funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to test the safety and efficacy of hand transplantation and the efficacy of a new immunosuppressive regimen using belatacept to prevent graft rejection. Duke plans to enroll 4 more patients to undergo hand transplants.
Watch a video of Mr. Chavez’s progress:
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Hand Transplantation at Duke
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 a hand, as a functional unit. 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.