"I just want to say this: Never give up on your dreams. It will come true," – Zion Harvey (8year old boy who recently got a double-hand transplant)
Zion Harvey, was 2 years old when his hands and feet had to be cut off because of a life-threatening sepsis infection, the infection also caused multiple organ failure. The kid had to be put on dialysis as his kidney failed as well, this gruesome routine continued till he was 4 when the doctors did a kidney transplant for which the donor was his mother - Pattie Ray. All this hardship and injustice towards his life would have broken down anyone, but not Zion who takes everything with a grin on his face.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, selected Zion for the hand transplant because of his grit and determination that he showed to live life. He was put on the waiting list of Gift of Life Donor Program (a local organ donor program) to find a hand in the month of April and luckily for him the wait was not really long. The doctors used a 3d model of Zions forearms which was used to create sample hands on a 3D printer. To eradicate the chances of failure the doctors used hands that were up to 20% larger and 20% smaller. The donor hands were then compared with these hands to zero down on the choice of hands for Zion
Dr. L. Scott Levin headed the team of 40 doctors which conducted marathon operation of 11 hours. The teams of doctors were divided into group of 10, while 2 groups worked on preparing Zion for the operation the rest of the doctors worked with the Donors hands. They just had 5 hours of time frame from the time they received the hands to the time they had to ensure that blood was flowing again.The surgery included joining new bones before delicately reconnecting his muscles, nerves, tendons, veins and arteries.
The operation was success and it was confirmed by doctors by pressing Zion’s new hands which turned white like it does for natural hands. But this is just the beginning of the long rehabilitation required by Zion. He still needs to go through several weeks of physical therapy - he will soon have the fine dexterity to pick up "smaller objects like Cheerios and Legos".He would also require a lifetime of immunosuppressant medication to avoid rejection of his new hands, which increases his chance of infection and cancer. Zion is already used to this immunosuppressant which he uses to avoid Kidney transplant rejection.
Our heart goes out to the Donor family that gave the hand, Dr. Levin said "I think the difference is finding a family who has the courage to relinquish the arms of a child who just died and give hope and life and quality of life to a child who's still living,"
While taking about the success of this operation he said "I hope he's the first of literally hundreds or thousands of patients that are going to be afforded this surgery.”