Man receives double hand transplant after rare disease

A Scotsman who couldn’t use his hands due to a rare skin condition has been given new life after a double transplant.

Steven Gallagher, 48, was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes scarring of the skin and internal organs, after developing an unusual rash about 13 years ago.

hand transplant

Credit: Reproduction / PAMan undergoes double hand transplant

Areas such as the nose, mouth and hands were affected, and about seven years ago, her fingers began to curl, causing severe pain.

When a hand transplant was suggested, Gallagher was surprised. Doctors detailed the risks involved in the surgery and after many conversations and undergoing psychological evaluation, the Scotsman opted for the procedure.

He then underwent the 12-hour operation in December 2021, which involved 30 professionals from various specialties.

The team that performed the surgery said it is the first time in the world that hand transplantation has been used to replace hands affected by scleroderma.

hand transplant

Credit: Reproduction / PAAfter the transplant, he was able to get back to doing everyday tasks.

“It all happened so fast. From the moment I woke up from the operation, I was able to move them,” Steven Gallagher said in an interview with the BBC.

He said the recovery is progressing slowly. “I’m still finding things difficult now, but things are getting better every week with the physical therapist and occupational therapists, everything is slowly improving.”

what is scleroderma

Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is a group of rare diseases that involve chronic hardening of the skin and connective tissues. It can also cause problems with your blood vessels, internal organs, and digestive tract.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the first parts of the body to be affected are usually the fingers, hands, feet, and face. In some people, skin thickening can also involve the forearms, upper arms, chest, abdomen, legs, and thighs.

While there is no cure for scleroderma, treatments can alleviate symptoms, slow progression, and improve quality of life.

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