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UT Southwestern launches hand transplant program
Date:8/29/2011

DALLAS Aug. 30, 2011 A team of surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center expects to perform the first hand transplant in North Texas within a year, making the institution just the sixth hospital in the U.S. to perform the rare and intricate surgery.

UT Southwestern received Institutional Review Board approval in July to move forward with the program. Transplant specialists are now screening potential patients who would likely tolerate anti-rejection medications and also endure intense physical therapy.

"This is the ultimate in reconstructive surgery. Nothing can provide the sensibility, the fine motor control and the strength that a transplanted hand can provide," said Dr. Tae Chong, assistant professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern, who will lead the team. "For these patients, the improvement is life-changing."

Patients who need a hand transplant typically have undergone some sort of trauma, such as a vehicle accident or severe burns. Recently, however, the largest influx of patients is injured military personnel.

"There have been incredible advances in battlefield armor, so they're coming back alive, but with severe and disabling trauma to their limbs," Dr. Chong said of the military. "Seventy percent of soldiers injured in combat have some extremity injury. Improvised explosive devices have changed the nature of combat-related injuries.

"We are well-versed in reconstructive surgery for the upper extremity," Dr. Chong noted. "Tendon, nerve, vascular, skin and bone reconstruction this is something in which we all have extensive training and expertise. Plastic surgeons have been involved in transplant surgery from the start, when initial studies used skin grafts for burned soldiers in World War II."

Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery, said, "The timing is right for UT Southwestern to perform this innovative procedure. With the support and commitment of our university hospital system, a
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Contact: Robin Russell
robin.russell@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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