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UK hand transplant recipient pens letter

Press Association logoPress Association 6/04/2017 Dave Higgens

The first person in the UK to have a double hand transplant says writing a letter to thank his surgeon has been one the highlights of his first nine months since the pioneering operation, as well as being able to clap the achievements his favourite rugby league team.

Chris King, 57, described how he has got his life back since the surgery in July last year, when he became the second person to have a hand transplant at the UK's specialist centre for the operation at Leeds General Infirmary and the first to have both hands replaced.

King demonstrated how he can now do a range of tasks, including writing, making a cup of tea and gardening as he progresses even faster than his surgeon anticipated.

He said he is improving every week and his next aims are to tie his own shoelaces and button up his shirt. He said he has already cracked undoing them.

"They are my boys, they really are," King said, looking at his hands.

"It's been going fantastically.

"I can make a fist, I can hold a pen, I can do more or less the same functions as I could with my original hands. There are still limitations but I'm getting back to the full Chris again."

King lost both his hands, except the thumbs, in an accident involving a metal pressing machine at his work in Doncaster four years ago.

He was close to death in the ambulance after the incident, but a team of what he calls the "unsung heroes" at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital managed to save his life and enough of his lower limbs to enable the later transplant surgery.

King and Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay became friends and are now members of an exclusive club, which now has an additional member after Kay's team carried out a further double transplant. The hospital is hoping the procedure will one day be as routine as a kidney transplant.

King described how he celebrated re-learning how to hold a pen and write again with a letter to the professor.

"When I picked a pen up first time was with my right hand," he said.

"The next time I picked it up it was left. I might be able to write with both hands now."

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