What makes Zion Harvey incredible, is not just that he is the first little boy to undergo a double hand transplant – it is his brave and determined sprit.
18 months ago, the now 10-year-old boy, made history after the 11-hour gruelling operation. Now Zion has fulfilled his dream of swinging a baseball bat – just a year after surgery.
The road has not been easy for courageous Zion, his body has tried to reject his new hands eight times.
But doctors say he never complains, actively participates in his rehabilitation and is now able to write, feed and dress himself independently, according to a medical report.
When Zion was just two when he had to have his hands and feet amputated after contracting the life-threatening infection sepsis.
It has now been two years since Zion was given new hands, and doctors say they are amazed by his progress.
Dr Sandra Amaral, a member of the team treating Zion at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the BBC that Zion continues to make strides every day.
“He is able to swing a bat with much more co-ordination, and he can write his name quite clearly.”
“His sensation continues to improve. It’s amazing. Now he can pat his mother’s cheek and feel it.”
Dr Amaral said there was evidence that his brain had rewired to finally accept his new hands.
The team has published medical notes about Zion’s remarkable story in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.
When Zion was two, doctors removed both his hands at the wrist, and his legs below the knee because they were dying.
His kidneys also failed.
At the age of four, after two years of dialysis, Zion had a kidney transplant using a kidney donated by his mother Pattie Ray.
It was another four years before the boy from Baltimore got his new hands.
He is the youngest to ever have the procedure.
His doctors say Zion’s medical story, along with his positive personality and determination, made him a great candidate.
Next came the wait for a donor of the right size, skin tone and blood group compatibility.
Three months later they found a donor.
A team of 40 medical staff, including 10 surgeons, operated through the night and into the early hours of the morning to fit Zion’s new hands.
Dr Benjamin Chang, co-director of the hand transplant programme at the hospital, recalls: “We wanted to really make sure that this was going to work for our patient and work for a lifetime.”
First child to undergo double hand transplant can now do this
Zion Harvey, the first child to undergo a double hand transplant, can now manage an array of dexterous tasks from swinging a baseball bat to holding a whisk upright.http://bbc.in/2tE9F2h (via BBC Lifestyle & Health News)
Posted by BBC News on Dienstag, 18. Juli 2017
Speaking about Zion last year, lead surgeon Dr Scott Levin said: “His brain is communicating with his hands. His brain says for his hands to move and they move. And that in and of itself is remarkable.”
Zion says: “If any kids are out there going through a rough time, things will get better. Never give up.”