There are a significant number of factors to consider when determining who would be an appropriate candidate for a hand/arm transplant. First and foremost, any patient who suffered upper hand/upper extremity amputation following burns, trauma, tumors or congenital deformities is a potential candidate. Listed below are some of the eligibility factors that we consider:
All patients must be at between 18 and 60 years of age.
Patients must have a strong motivation to proceed with transplant and accept dedicating at least two years towards extensive post transplant rehabilitation.
The time between the injury and the transplant must be more than six months, but less than 15 years.
Patients must report less than optimal outcomes with myoelectric prostheses as evaluated by an experienced occupational therapist during a minimal trial period of six months.
Patients must be willing to take immunosuppressants – drugs that help prevent rejection of the transplant - for the rest of their lives.
Women who are pregnant must wait until at least six weeks after the completion of their pregnancy before a transplant can be considered.
There also are a lot of factors to consider when looking for an appropriate donor, and we work closely with the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) to help us with this challenging search. Here are just a few of the characteristics that we evaluate:
Skin color, texture and size of the hand/arm should be similar to that of the patient.
Time is critical when recovering the hand/arm from a donor, so the donor must be located within a four-hour travel radius of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The donor’s family must provide consent. Self consent to organ and tissue donation, such as can be done on a motor vehicle license application, does not apply to hand tissue donation.