Double hand transplant patient able to write letter of thanks to surgeon

Russell Hope, News Reporter

The first person to have a double hand transplant in the UK has told of his joy at being able to hold a pen to write a letter of thanks to his surgeon.

Chris King says he is now able write, hold a mug of tea and clap the achievements of his favourite sports teams - "bigger strides" than he ever believed he would make following the groundbreaking operation nine months ago.

The 57-year-old said it feels like he is getting his life back on track, all thanks to consultant plastic surgeon Simon Kay.

He said: "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."

Mr King, from Doncaster, said the "icing on the cake" would be "when I can do my laces, and I don't think that's far off".

He said he was pleased to be making such progress after being left close to death when he lost both his hands, except the thumbs, in a workplace accident four years ago.

It is down to a team of "unsung heroes" at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital that he is here today, he said.

The operation to attach the transplanted hands was carried out at Leeds General Infirmary by Professor Kay.

Mr King said the surgery may even have given him ambidexterity.

"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."

He said he intended to watch Leeds United and the rugby league team he supports, Leeds Rhinos.

"I've never been but I will go one day and clap a lot and shout a lot, even if we lose," he said.

Shortly after the operation, Mr King said his first aim was to pour a pint of his favourite Yorkshire ale, Timothy Taylor's, from a bottle.

He said: "I did enjoy it. It tasted sweeter because of what I had done. It was a little mini-celebration, just for me."

Mr King said he wanted to thank the family of the person who donated his hands, and encouraged others to provide what he calls "this wonderful gift".

"Become a donor and live your life to the full like I want to live now," he said. "That's the message I'd like to get over."

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