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New hand transplant program starting up at U-M

U-M Health System

The University of Michigan Health System has launched a new hand transplant program, saying it's the first of its kind in Michigan.

U-M says hand transplants are quite rare, and only seven programs in the United States offer hand transplants with about 100 having been performed worldwide. 

"We believe hand transplantation can be a great option for people who haven't had success with other options like prosthetics, " said U-M's Kagan Ozer, M.D., the surgical director of the new program. "Recipients say it makes a tremendous difference in their quality of life. They can grasp, touch, and most importantly feel objects. Restoration of sensation is currently not possible with other methods of reconstruction."

Hand transplantation  surgically transfers a hand from a deceased human donor to a patient who has lost one or both hands. According to the University of Michigan, the surgical procedure is complicated, taking up to 12 hours because the the hand consists of multiple bones, muscles, three major nerves, two major arteries, and numerous tendons and veins.