Tags: double hand transplant | zion harvey | football

Double-Hand Transplant Recipient Zion Harvey Wants to Play Football

Image: Double-Hand Transplant Recipient Zion Harvey Wants to Play Football

(Penn Medicine)

By    |   Thursday, 25 Aug 2016 02:58 PM

Double-hand transplant recipient Zion Harvey continues to make progress a year after the historic medical procedure.

Harvey, 9, became the first child ever to have a double-hand transplant during an operation at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in July 2015, NBC News reported. At the age of 2, he lost both hands and lower legs because of a life-threatening infection.

His mother, Pattie Ray, gave her son a healthy kidney when his was also affected by the same infection. That operation and the immune suppression drugs he had already adjusted to made him a good candidate for the hand transplants.

"Without my mom, I would not be right here right now," Harvey said, according to NBC News. "It's been me and my mom forever. So when I got my hands, it's like, here's the piece of my life that was missing. Now it's here. Now my life is complete."

The plan for the hand transplant was first hatched in 2012 when Ray brought Harvey from their Baltimore home to Philadelphia Shriners Hospitals for Children to talk about fitting her son.

"This extremely rare procedure, also known as vascularized composite allotransplantation, is being performed by only a few surgical teams around the world — and none had performed it in a child," said a story on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website.

CNN wrote that the Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia evaluated Harvey for 18 months before he was deemed an official candidate for the surgery.

"The operation requires exceptional expertise in complex microvascular surgery and hand surgery, connecting muscles, tendons and blood vessels — the latter with sutures finer than a human hair. Patients undergoing the surgery also require a vast network of support services," the publication wrote.

Fast forward to August, and Harvey was able to use his new hands to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Baltimore's Camden Yards before a game between the Orioles and the Texas Rangers.

"We saw him throw out the first pitch at the Orioles game," Harvey's occupational therapist Kelly Ferry told NBC News. "He picked up his hat. He put it on backwards. And just to watch him do those simple self-care tasks on his own without even thinking about it, it was just tremendous."

Doctors told CNN that Harvey's brain has had to relearn how to use the hand muscles, and even finger wiggles have become major hurdles successfully overcome.

"He and his family have managed this so well, beyond our expectations," Dr. Benjamin Chang, co-director of the hand transplantation program at Children's Hospital told CNN.

Harvey said his biggest challenge is to convince his mother to let him play football, one thing she has not relented on.

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Double-hand transplant recipient Zion Harvey continues to make progress a year after the historic medical procedure.
double hand transplant, zion harvey, football
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2016-58-25
Thursday, 25 Aug 2016 02:58 PM
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