Canada’s first upper limb transplant

UHN’s Multi-Organ Transplant Program performs Canada’s first upper limb transplant

In a Canadian first, a team led by Dr. Steven McCabe, Director of the Hand and Upper Extremity Transplant Program and the Hand Program at Toronto Western Hospital, has successfully completed the country’s first transplant of the upper limb.

During a procedure lasting approximately 14 hours, a team of 18 surgeons attached the forearm and hand matched from a donor to a patient who had been evaluated as a suitable candidate. This required the cooperation of a variety of different surgical disciplines from a number of hospitals.

The 49-year-old female patient, who lost her arm below the elbow in an accident several years ago, is doing well and recovering from the procedure. The patient’s rehabilitation will begin right away with a custom made splint and motion of the joints to avoid stiffness.

“We are very proud to have successfully performed this hand transplant procedure,” said Dr. McCabe. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, and we are excited to be able to provide this procedure to patients who would benefit from it.”
Dr. McCabe was part of the surgical team in Louisville, Kentucky that performed the world’s first successful hand transplant in 1999. To date, over 110 hand transplants have taken place worldwide in more than 12 countries.

“This is a remarkable achievement that was made possible through the collaboration between the Multi-Organ Transplant Program based at Toronto General and the Hand and Upper Extremity Transplant Program based at Toronto Western,” said Dr. Atul Humar, Director of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at UHN. “This first-in-Canada procedure joins a growing list of ‘firsts’ accomplished within our program, and it’s important to highlight the key role our philanthropic donors play in supporting such life-changing innovations.”

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