Boy Swings Bat as 1st Double Hand Transplant is a Success

Zion Was First Kid To Undergo The Surgery The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said, declaring the operation a success after 18 months.

The report in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health provides the first official medical update on 10-year-old Zion Harvey , who underwent surgery to replace both hands in July 2015.

“Eighteen months after the surgery , the child is more independent and able to complete day-to-day activities,“ Dr Sandra Amaral said on Tuesday at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where the operation took place.

Harvey had his hands and feet amputated following a sepsis infection. He also had a kidney transplant. Harvey was already receiving drugs to suppress any immune reaction to his kidney , which was a key factor in his selection for the 10-plus hour hand transplant surgery . Immunosuppressive drugs must be taken continuously to prevent a patient's body from rejecting the transplant.

The child has “undergone eight rejections of the hands, including serious episodes during the fourth and seventh months of his transplant,“ said the report. “All of these were reversed with immunosuppression drugs without impacting the function of the child's hands.“

Eight months after the operation, Harvey was using scissors and drawing with crayons. Within a year, he could swing a baseball bat using both hands. He also threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game last August.

Scans have shown his brain is adapting to the new hands, developing new pathways to control movement and feel sensations.

The first successful hand transplant in an adult was completed in 1998.