MELBOURNE, Australia – A grandfather with no hands or feet has become the first Australian to receive a hand transplant, the Herald Sun reported Thursday.
Peter Walsh, 65, had the landmark nine-hour operation at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, this week — after years of painstaking planning by specialists.
The father of five lost his hands and feet to a rare bacterial infection that nearly killed him.
Surgeons have been cautious in declaring its short-term success — it is still very early — but Walsh was displaying promising signs with his donated right hand.
"Peter was wriggling his fingers today," Dr. Wayne Morrison, who led the surgical team, said.
"We actually don't want him to be moving his hand yet, but it's demonstrating everything is connected. Everything is on track."
Walsh has a false thumb on his left hand, constructed by plastic surgeons when he first lost his fingers in 2006, which he uses to write, hold his fork and hold a straw to drink.
About 60 hand and arm transplants have been performed around the world, with a very high success rate. The first was performed by French surgeons in 1998 on former Australian resident Clint Hallam.