First Double Arm Transplant
Munich - In a stunning medical advancement, a team of 40 doctors and support staff carried out a 15-hour operation to graft the donor's arms on to the body of a victim, who lost his own arms in a combine harvester accident. The victim, a German farmer named Karl Merk, has received the world's first complete double arm transplant.
"It was really overwhelming when I saw that I had arms again," said the 54-year-old. "These are my arms, and I'm not giving them away again." Merk remains at the Munich University Clinic where he has been hospitalized for nearly three months since the operation. He expects to go home after 4-6 more weeks of intensive physiotherapy, electric stimulation and psychological counseling.
Merk can now perform simple tasks such as opening doors and turning on lights. His ultimate goals are to eat and dress himself. Doctors said there were good indications of nerve growth in the arms but it could take up to two years before he relearns how to use his hands. There is also still a risk that Merk's immune system will react. So far, however, there are no signs of the limbs being rejected.
In a 40 day period (June-July 2008), at least 3 arms were amputated in the U.S. due to pit bull attacks. These victims will not be receiving arm transplants.
07/29/08: 10-Year Old's Arm Amputated After Family Pit Bull Attack
06/19/08: Pit Bull in Greensburg Chews Off Owners Arm
01/12/08: New Type of Surgery Used For Dog Attack Victim