Doctors in India have carried out what is believed to be the world's first double hand transplant to be performed on a non-white patient.

The operation was carried out on 30-year-old Manu, who lost both his hands when he was thrown from a moving train by a gang of thugs as he tried to step in to stop them harassing a female passenger.

Hailing Manu as a hero, the pioneering surgery was paid for by Indian charity Mata Amritanandamayi Math.

Manu was given the hands of a 24-year-old killed during a road accident.The operation, which involved 20 highly skilled surgeons, took 16 hours over January 12 and 13 - and, a fortnight later, Manu's body has accepted the new limbs, and he is gaining use.

The complicated surgery had never been performed in India before Credit: Reuters
The operation took 16 hours and involved 20 surgeons Credit: Reuters

Doctors at the Amrita Institute of Medical Science, in the southern India state of Kerala, say the feeling in the hands will increase over the next few months.

The aftermath of the surgery is being closely monitored by health experts across the world.

Not only is it a first for India, which had never hosted a double hand transplant before, it is the first such surgery to be carried out on a non-white person.

This is the first time a hand transplant is done in the Asian sub-continent and probably he first where the hand transplant has been done in non white skin.

Subramania Iyer, head of plastic surgery

Manu said he was "delighted" with his new hands and is now continuing his recovery. He can now write, though that will improve as his feeling returns, and feed himself.

Watch as Manu tests out his new hands:

He said he hopes the operation will mean he can return to his normal life.

I am very happy. After I lost my hands, I was very scared but now I am happy that my hands have been operated on and restored and I can do all my regular activities.

Manu, transplant patient