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A Double Hand Transplant? Not a Sci-Fi Story, But a Medical Feat

Thanks to a team of doctors in Kochi, the astonishing medical feat of a double hand transplant changed Manu’s life.

Updated
Fit
2 min read
A Double Hand Transplant? Not a Sci-Fi Story, But a Medical Feat
i

After performing the astounding bilateral hand transplant in India for the first time in 2015, Dr Subramania Iyer spoke to Fit about the complexity of the procedure and the importance of being aware of organ donation.

The surgery was performed on Manu TR, the first-ever recipient of such a transplant in India, at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi. Globally, there have only been 110 cases of bilateral hand transplant.

Thirty-year-old Manu had been pushed out of a moving train when he tried defending a couple from a group of goons. The tragic accident, which took place in Kochi, Kerala, in 2014, resulted in Manu losing both his arms.

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Manu agreed to get a bilateral hand transplant a couple of months later in 2015. Adding more poignancy to this already heart-wrenching account is the story of his donor, Binoy.

Twenty-year-old Binoy worked with a group of activists who helped victims of road accidents get to hospitals. As irony would have it, Binoy too suffered from a road accident, after which he was declared brain-dead.

Binoy, who was a skilled painter, spent a significant amount of his time taking care of his paralysed father. Following his accident, his family decided to donate his hands to Manu to give someone else a chance to lead a fulfilling life.

‘Binoy Thank you’: The first thing Manu wrote soon after the hand transplant.
(Photo Courtesy: Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences)

Manu, who confesses to feeling suicidal after the accident, now works a regular job. Not long after the surgery, he got married, and is expecting his first baby soon. With care and rehabilitation, he has now managed to gain 95 percent mobility in his hands.

This medical feat of a double hand transplant, which allowed Manu to have a normal life, was achieved by a team of over 20 doctors, lead by Dr Iyer, after a 16-hour operation.

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