Two years after undergoing the UK’s first hand transplant Mark Cahill has achieved the dream of lifting his grandchildren.
The 53-year-old was suffering with chronic gout in both hands and was unable to use a knife and fork.
For 10 years grandad Mark Cahill’s life had been thwarted by the condition, and years later he developed an infection in his right hand which left it completely paralysed - meaning he had to give up work as a pub landlord.
But on Boxing Day 2012, only three months after he put his name on a transplant list, he received a momentous call that changed his life, telling him a hand had become available.
And now incredibly, two years on from the groundbreaking op at Leeds General Infirmary, dad-of-one Mark is now strong enough to be able to lift and cuddle grandkids, five-year-old Thomas and seven-month-old Dakota.
At 8am on December 27, 2012, Mark went into theatre for the delicate, eight-hour long procedure to begin. A new technique was used which involved Mark’s non-functioning right hand being removed during the same operation in which the donor hand was transplanted.
Mark, of Halifax, said: “I am definitely over 50 per cent better and heading to 75 per cent though I will never get the feeling back completely. I don’t have to rely on my wife so much now. I can wash myself in the bath. I could only wash half of my body before. I can pick my grandchildren up which is a marvellous feeling. I’m naturally left-handed but I can hold a steering wheel with my right hand now so I might go back to a driving a manual car eventually.
“I can open tins and tie my own tie, use a mobile phone. Shoelaces I can do just about though they are not easy.”
Mark was lucky to the extent that in late 2011 Leeds Teaching Hospitals announced it was starting to look for potential candidates for hand or arm transplants. An LGI team had been preparing and assessing potential recipients from across the country.
Mark was part of the programme and had to undergo a series of health checks as well as psychological assessments to ensure potential patients had properly considered the implications of the procedure.