A teenager who lost both her arms in a horror bus crash has had one of the world’s first DOUBLE limb transplants.
Shreya Siddanagowda, 19, had to have both her arms amputated above the elbow when they were crushed in the crash.
Miraculously, she was able to crawl to safety, and four months later she started using prosthetics.
But last month the selfless family of a 20-year-old male student, who suffered a fatal head injury in a motorbike crash, agreed to donate his arms.
The 13-hour operation was the first in Asia – and one of only ten double upper arm transplants ever carried out in the world.
Chemical engineering student Shreya has now been discharged from hospital and is undergoing an intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme.
Shreya, from the southern Indian sate of Kerala, said: “My whole world collapsed and I couldn’t believe what had happened.
“When I was told by my mother that hand transplants were now being conducted in India, I got great strength and hope, and my disability began to look temporary.
“I felt that one day, I will again be able to lead a near-normal life with a transplant.
“Hopefully, in the next couple of years, I will be able to lead a near normal and happy life.
“I want to continue my studies and fulfill all my dreams that I had before the accident.”
Shreya lost her arms when she was involved in a bus crash while on her way to her college near Mangalore, in September 2016.
She managed to pull herself from the wreckage and crawl to safety, but couldn’t move her crushed hands which had to be amputated above the elbow.
Four months later, Shreya began to use prosthetic limbs, but was unhappy with their mobility.
The 20-year-old donor, a final year student, was declared brain-dead after suffering a head injury in a motorcycle accident in August.
His parents agreed to donate their son’s arms and other organs for transplant and the procedure was carried out at The Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences.
Led by plastic surgeon Dr Subramania Iyer, 20 surgeons and a 16 anesthetists took part in the mammoth 13 hour surgery.
He said: “Upper arm transplants are much more challenging than those at the wrist or forearm level due to the complexity involved in accurately identifying and connecting various nerves, muscles, tendons and arteries.
“Rehabilitation is also much more difficult because the patient bears the weight of the transplanted hands at the upper arm.
“In Shreya’s case, both transplants were done at the middle of the upper arm.
“This is the first time that an upper arm transplant has been done in India or even Asia.
“Only nine such transplants have been conducted in the world until now.
“Shreya is currently undergoing a regime of movements for her fingers, wrists and shoulders.
“The elbow movements are planned to be started in a couple of weeks.”
Another surgeon Dr Mohit Sharma added: “We expect that she will regain 85% of hand function in the next one-and-a-half years.”