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UCLA Medical Center Performs 1st Hand Transplant In Western US

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The new hand attached to a 26-year-old Northern California mom. (credit: UCLA Health System)

The new hand attached to a 26-year-old Northern California mom. (credit: UCLA Health System)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A 17-member team at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center performed the first hand transplant in the Western US, it was revealed Monday.

The recipient? A 26-year-old mom from Northern California who lost her right hand in a traffic accident nearly five years ago.

The team, comprised of surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room nurses and technicians. were involved in the 14-hour operation to graft the hand onto the patient.

The operation began with two surgical teams working simultaneously to prepare the donor graft and the recipient. At 4:30 a.m. Saturday, 4 1/2 hours after the operation began, the donor limb was joined to the recipient, the medical center said.

The surgeons then began the complex work of attaching tendons, blood vessels and nerves to complete the surgery, which concluded at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

After the surgery, the patient was brought back to her room, where she was met by grateful members of her family. She remains at the medical center and will begin extensive physical rehabilitation and a regimen of immunosuppressant medication to help prevent her body from rejecting the new appendage.

“I am ecstatic with the results — a little tired, but ecstatic,” said lead surgeon Dr. Kodi Azari, surgical director of the UCLA Hand Transplant Program and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, at the conclusion of the marathon surgery.

“Everything went well,” Azari said. “The size, color and hair pattern match between the donor and recipient is nearly identical. We are so proud to have been able to give our patient the gift of a new hand.”

Azari was a surgeon in four previous hand transplant surgeries performed in the U.S. before coming to UCLA, according to the university.

UCLA is the fourth facility in the nation to offer this procedure, and the first west of the Rockies. This was the 13th hand transplant surgery performed in the United States, the university said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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