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Transplant patient 'looking forward to holding grandson's hand'

A former pub landlord who has become the first UK person to have his hand transplanted says he is looking forward to being able to hold his grandson's hand.

Mark Cahill, 51, of Halifax in West Yorkshire, is looking forward to being able to perform simple tasks, adding that he is grateful to both psychologists who have help him cope, and the family of the donor who made the operation possible.

He said: "For a start I might be able to cut my food up, button a shirt and fasten a pair of shoe laces, and mainly I will be able to hold my grandson's hand.

"I was a pub landlord before this happened, pulling pints. You tend to need two hands for that.

"It's a very big psychological issue having an operation like this. I think I have dealt with it pretty well. The only thing you cannot do is know what's going to happen after the operation. As it's turned out it's brilliant, and I am well happy."

Hand transplant patient lost limb through gout

Mark Cahill, 51, of West Yorkshire, has a new hand following an operation. Credit: ITV News

The hospital said Mr Cahill lost the use of his right hand due to severe gout. Leeds Teaching Hospitals announced in late 2011 that it was looking for potential candidates for hand or arm transplants. The team had been preparing and assessing potential recipients from across the country.

Potential patients went through health checks and psychological assessment before being considered for the procedure. Mr Cahill was part of the programme and was one of two potential candidates when a donated limb became available. He was selected because he was the best tissue match.

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First hand UK transplant patient making 'good progress'

The first person in the UK to have a hand transplant endured a complex, eight hour-long procedure when a donor limb became available.

A new technique meant Mark Cahill, 51, of West Yorkshire, could have his non-functioning right hand removed in operation where a donor hand was also transplanted.

The surgical team had been on standby from the end of November awaiting a suitable donor limb, and the call came just after Christmas.

This operation is the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation over the last two years by a team including plastic surgery, transplant medicine and surgery, immunology, psychology,rehabilitation medicine, pharmacy and many other disciplines.

It was extremely challenging to be the first team inthe UK to carry out such a procedure.

Any organ donation brings something positive fromtragedy and I would like to acknowledge the tremendous gift the family of thedonor have made at such a distressing time.

– Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, who led the surgical team

The professor said it was "still early days" but indications were good and the patient was making good progress.

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