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Penn Medicine Establishes Hand Transplant Program
Date:12/17/2010

even bother with prosthetics except for cosmetic purposes. Even people who've tragically lost both arms are able to be somewhat self-sufficient if they have their lower extremities," said Dr. Levin. "However, someone who has had both arms and legs amputated is completely and totally dependent. The most basic functions of life are virtually impossible to perform - locomotion, grooming, feeding. Just imagine what it would be like to be unable to go to the bathroom alone...or to be unable to brush your hair," added Dr. Levin. "It's our goal at Penn to effectively and closely combine the roles of orthopaedics, plastic and transplant surgery in the field of composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) so we can successfully treat these patients and give them back their independence."

"Reconstructive surgery is the new frontier of surgical transplantation and the results are promising," said Dr. Shaked. "Our experience over the decades in solid organ transplantation can successfully be applied to composite tissue allotransplantation and we fully support this major advancement in the care of patients in need of limb transplantation."

The primary cause of amputation in the United States is trauma, but it may also be the result of septicemia - a severe infection in the bloodstream - as is the case with the first Penn candidates. While patients who undergo transplant surgeries face a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs which increase their risk of diabetes, infection and hypertension, there is a quality of life trade-off that some are willing to accept.

"We have the level of surgical and academic expertise necessary to not only successfully offer complicated tissue allotransplantation procedures - but also to set the standards in this emerging field," added Joseph Serletti, MD, FACS, Chief of Penn's Division of Plastic Surgery and the Henry Royster-William Maul Measey Professor in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. "As a top academic medical center, we'll
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SOURCE Hospital of University of Pennsylvania
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