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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 11:08 GMT
Double hand transplant 'success'
Alba. Picture: EPA
Alba was delighted with the operation. Pic: EPA
A woman who became the first in the world to receive a double hand transplant has left hospital.

A team of surgeons at Hospital La Fe in Valencia carried out the pioneering operation.

Alba Lucia, 47, originally from Colombia, who had the 10-hour operation on November 30, said she was "very happy and enormously satisfied".

Both her original hands were amputated after an explosion in her student chemistry lab nearly 30 years ago.

They look beautiful
Alba Lucia

Her new limbs came from a woman who was declared brain dead following an accident.

The donor's arms were removed from above the elbow, and the severed limbs were cooled and transported to Hospital La Fe in less than five hours.

A team of more than 10 medical professionals, including surgeons and anaesthetists, then worked to attach them to Alba's arms.

Both transplants were carried out simultaneously.

First, Alba's forearms had to be adjusted to match the size of the donor limbs.

Bones were fixed with metal plates and screws, and microscopic surgery was used to attached the arteries, veins and nerves.

After the operation, when she saw her new hands for the first time, Ms Lucia said: "They look beautiful."

Arms matched

Pedro Cavadas, the lead surgeon, said he was pleased with the outcome of the operation.

"She has two new hands and forearms two inches above the wrist bone.

"It will be five to six months before she has any feeling."

He added: "She's delighted, because after 28 years without hands. she sees herself with some perfectly beautiful ones.

"She will have two useful hands that will allow her an independent life."

But he added: "In any case this is much better than any prosthesis."

Six double-handed transplants have been carried out on men. The first was carried out on a 33-year-old man in France in 2000.


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