2 Aug 2008

German patient receives double arm transplant

6:39 am on 2 August 2008

German doctors have succeeded in transplanting two complete arms onto a 54-year old man in what their hospital said was the world's first operation of this kind.

During 15 hours of surgery, a team of 40 doctors, nurses and assistants attached the limbs to a farmer who lost both arms in an accident six years ago.

The donor is believed to be a teenager who had died shortly before the surgery. Neither man's name has been released by the Munich University Clinic.

A spokesman for the hospital said the patient was well after the operation which took place last week.

"Before the operation, we had to describe to him that he would have to deal with the fact he'd have somebody else's hands," said Edgar Biemer, one of the doctors in charge of the operation.

"When he woke up he looked at his hands and (went): 'Very good'."

Mr Biemer said that so far, only transplants of lower arms had taken place

The first arm transplants occurred in Austria in 2003 when a man received transplanted forearms and hands.

In the procedure in Munich last week, the limbs were reattached just below the shoulder.

In 2005, French doctors performed the world's first partial face transplant on a 38-year old woman, who had her nose, cheeks, mouth, lips and chin replaced by donor tissue after they were torn off by her dog.