Gabriel Granados Vergara became the first double arm transplantee in Latin America. The procedure was performed by surgeons at the National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition in Mexico City.
The news of the successful surgery was announced in a news conference and report by the Associated Press. Granados Vergara, 52, had to have both arms amputated below the elbows following an electrical shock received in January 2011. The electric shock caused severe burns which required Granados Vergara to have both arms amputated.
The double arm transplantation was the first ever to be performed in Latin America and was led by Dr. Martin Iglesias. The arms came from a 34-year-old shooting victim and the surgery was performed in early May and Granados Vergara was just discharged from the hospital on Thursday, June 7.
The AP reports that Granados Vergara said he has begun to have feeling in his new hands and doctors have said the recovery has been going well. In order to perform the surgery, doctors had to practice on corpses.
While Granados Vegara was the first to receive a double arm transplant, there are 23 other Mexican patients who are awaiting new arms but only six transplants could be achieved successfully due to available resources, note doctors.
Drastic surgical procedures have their pitfalls that go beyond limited available resources. The surgical procedures are incredibly difficult and time-consuming which is followed by extensive rehabilitation. The double arms surgery is also difficult because doctors cannot guarantee how much movement or feeling could be obtained. Immuno-suppressing drugs will also be needed to prevent rejection of the transplant.
The double arm procedure is extremely difficult and relatively new. The world's first double arm transplant occurred in Germany in 2008. The double arm tranplantee, Karl Merk, has been able to have a somewhat normal life and can ride a bike and lift weights.
America's first double arm transplant may occur sometime this year. A Texas woman, Katy Hayes, is set to undergo the procedure at Brigham's Women's Hospital in Boston. Hayes is a quadruple-amputee who had to have her limbs removed due to a flesh-eating infection.