Medical Miracle: Boy Who Lost Limbs Gets Double Hand Transplant

July 30, 2015  |  

Eight-year-old Zion Harvey was happy to show off his new hands weeks after the historic double hand transplant. At a press conference he explained how they felt, “Weird at first, but then good.”

Zion, of Owings Mills, Md., outside Baltimore, contracted sepsis at age 2. The resulting multiple organ failure forced the amputation of his hands and feet; by age 4, he needed a kidney transplant, receiving the organ from his mother.

Leg prosthetics have allowed Zion to be very active, including walking, running and jumping. He learned to use his forearms to write, eat and play video games and has been attending school. Physicians hope he’ll now be able to achieve more milestones, including his goals of throwing a football and playing on the monkey bars.

“It was no more of a risk than a kidney transplant,” his mother, Pattie Ray, said. “So I felt like I was willing to take that risk for him, if he wanted it — to be able to play monkey bars and football.”

“He’s amazing in his own right,” said his mom Pattie Ray, “it’s a blessing, I’ve been blessed with an angel.”

After only a few weeks on the transplant waiting list, an unidentified donor was found through Gift Of Life, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia quickly assembled a transplant team for the 10 hour operation.

Dr. Scott Levin added that this is a huge step forward in restorative surgery.  A 40-person team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons then painstakingly reconnected Zion’s arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves.

Doctors say Zion will spend several weeks in physical rehab at the hospital before returning home. Two rows of relatives attended the news conference, and they stood to be recognized at Zion’s request.

“I want to say to you guys, thank you for helping me through this bumpy road,” he said.

The donor’s family chose to remain anonymous.

Children’s Hospital said it would not hold Zion’s family liable for any costs beyond that which may be covered by medical insurance.

 

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