Surgeons in Munich, Germany performed the world’s first complete double arm transplant Friday, London’s Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
The patient, whose name has not been released, is a 54-year-old man who lost both of his arms in a farming accident six years ago.
Doctors said the patient is recovering well. He will be able to leave the hospital in about five weeks.
Thirty surgeons were involved in the 16-plus hour operation.
Dr. Edgar Biemer, who headed the surgery, told the Daily Mail that forearm and hand transplants have been done in the past, but this was the first time complete limbs have been transplanted.
“The forces of rejection are stronger with these organs than with any others because the skin is the largest immune barrier for the body,” Biemer said. “It instinctively rejects skin it doesn’t recognize. New medicines have developed to stop this rejection and the patient – in this case – will be taking medicine all his life.”
The procedure involved disconnecting the 19-year-old donor’s veins and nerves and connecting them to the surgical patient.
“He won’t play the piano, but otherwise he will live much better than before,” Biemer said.