A Spanish medical team completed the first double leg transplant in the world, hospital sources told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
The surgery lasted throughout the night and ended this morning, the newspaper said. The lead surgeon, Dr. Pedro Cavadas, had previously performed successful transplants on the jaw, tongue and a woman’s forearm – but never on two legs. In Spain, Cavadas is hailed as the “miracle doctor.”
The medical breakthrough could offer hope to millions of amputees throughout the world.
Doctors at La Fe Hospital in Valencia, Spain, spent hours connecting bones and implanting and reconnecting tendons, arteries, veins and muscles.
But there is no guarantee the surgery was a success. The recipient must take immuno-suppressive drugs to make sure his body doesn’t reject his new legs.
The doctors at La Fe Hospital in Valencia, Spain, implanted nerves and muscles, and it will take several days or weeks to see whether the muscles will have enough strength to hold a person’s body weight. Another challenge is getting the nerves to function properly.
The recipient was a young man whose legs were amputated after a bad accident. The man was unable to wear prosthetic legs, so he would have been confined to a wheelchair for life, the medical team told the newspaper.
It will take months to determine whether the transplant will be successful.
“On one side, there are the risks of immuno-suppression,” said Rafael Matesanz, the director of the National Transplant Organization in Spain. “And we also expect a very long and difficult rehabilitation.”
The medical team will hold a press conference Tuesday morning in Spain.