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Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Surgeon agrees to sever transplant hand
Clint Hallam
Mr Hallam now wants the hand removed
A surgeon who carried out the world's first hand transplant says he is now prepared to amputate the limb, as the patient has requested.

British surgeon Dr Nadey Hakim, from St Mary's Hospital in London, said Clint Hallam had been a poor patient who had ruined doctors' work.


We gave him the chance of a lifetime and he ruined it

Dr Nadey Hakim

Dr Hakim was part of the French-led team that attached the hand of a dead motorcyclist onto Mr Hallam, a 50-year-old New Zealander, in September 1998.

A controversial character with a criminal record, Mr Hallam recently begged doctors to remove the hand, saying he feels "mentally detached" from the hand, which his body was rejecting.

However, his request was turned down by the French doctor who led the surgery team on the grounds that the body was inviolable under French law.

Regret

Dr Hakim said he regretted giving Mr Hallam a transplant.

Amputee
Other hand transplants have since been performed
"He has not behaved the way we were hoping he would behave," Dr Hakim said, adding that the six other hand transplant patients had followed doctors' orders and taken their anti-rejection drugs.

"He has to take his tablets and if he decides not to... and he's a free man... then unfortunately, I can only predict that the limb will not do well and will reject completely.

"Obviously if it rejects, it will have to come out," he said.

Dr Hakim said he was trying to contact Mr Hallam to decide whether or not the amputation should go ahead, but he hadn't had a response.

'More handicapped' now

Mr Hallam, who lost his original right hand in an accident with a circular saw 16 years ago, says he feels "more handicapped than before".

He says he can do little with the attached hand because the tendons on it have fused together.


If this is what I'm going to have for the rest of my life, I'd rather not have it

Clint Hallam
In an interview with The Times in London, he said he often kept the hand hidden because it is so unsightly.

The transplanted hand is wider and longer than his own, the flesh a different colour and the skin flaky.

"As it began to be rejected, I realised that it wasn't my hand after all.

He has complained that the drugs have side-effects that include diabetes, chronic diarrhoea and a weakened immune system.

Mr Hallam has reportedly been unable to afford the costly drugs.

"We thought he was a rich businessman but actually he is unemployed with a criminal record," Dr Hakim said.

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See also:

02 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
First hand transplant in doubt
25 Sep 98 | Health
'World's first hand transplant'
28 Feb 99 | Health
Transplant first in Japan
01 Oct 98 | Health
From hand to face
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