Asia’s First Successful Double Hand Transplant!

Last September, 19-year-old engineering student Shreya Siddanagowda helplessly watched life slipping out of her hands, literally.

A year later, a team of doctors in Kochi has given her a new life albeit partially through a rare surgery —claimed to be the first in Asia—by transplanting a 20-year-old man's arms in place of her forearms.

It may be a providential coincidence that Shreya along with her parents and the team of doctors shared the story with media a year after a bus accident permanently scarred her life last year.

"I am just happy that I have hands now. Looks don't matter. I want to start re-using my hands and be independent as soon as possible," Shreya says.

She was travelling from Pune to Manipal Institute of Technology on September 28 last year when her bus met with an accident. Though she managed to crawl out of the overturned bus, she soon realised that there was no movement in her hands.

"On the first day in the ICU, as I waited for my parents to arrive from Pune, doctors told me that they would have to amputate one of my arms. I was devastated but there was hope that I had the other. But four days later, the doctors said they would have to amputate my second arm too; I felt as if it was the end of the world," Shreya, the only daughter to her parents, says.

Though she tried using prosthetic arms, they could not meet most of her routine needs.

A year later, she finally found a a donor in 20-year-old Sachin, a BCom final-year student from Ernakulam who was declared brain-dead after a motorcycle accident.

The same grit and determination radiated as Shreya addressed reporters on Wednesday, unfazed by the curious eyes that silently posed questions about the obvious colour and structural mismatch."Upper arm transplants are more challenging than a wrist or forearm surgery due to the complexity involved in accurately identifying and connecting various nerves, muscles, tendons and arteries," said Subramania Iyer, head, plastic and reconstructive surgery, AIMS.

It will take two years for Shreya to fully use her hands as the transplants were done at the middle of the upper arm. "Only eight such cases exist in the world. We are hopeful that Shreya will get at least 70% functionality in her hands," said Mohit Sharma, who was part of the AIMS team. But Shreya is not complaining. "I am sure that in sometime I will be able to get back to college. I am determined," she says.