THE first man in the UK to have a double hand transplant got the chance to clap his rugby league heroes on his first visit to Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Chris King, 57, has been a Leeds Rhinos fan since the 1970s but had never seen a live game until today (Mon April 17) when he was in the crowd at Headingley as the Rhinos clashed with Widnes Vikings.
Mr King, from Rossington in South Yorkshire, lost both hands except his thumbs in an accident involving a metal pressing machine at work four years ago.
After undergoing the complex double hand transplant operation at Leeds General Infirmary last July, Mr King said he had got his life back.
And he told reporters how much he was looking forward to being able to clap when he finally got the chance to watch the Rhinos in action.
The Rhinos got in touch and he was the club’s guest of honour at the match on Easter Monday afternoon.
Mr King clapped from the stand when the teams ran on to the pitch. And he was applauded himself at half-time when he went on to the pitch and pulled out the winning ticket for the golden gamble draw.
Mr King said: “It feels absolutely marvellous. It’s like all my birthdays have come at once.
“I have got all the shirts but I have never been to a live game.
“My favourite game on the TV was the Yorkshire Cup Final in 1988 when Leeds beat Castleford.”
Mr King can now do a range of tasks, including writing, making a cup of tea and gardening.
There have been around 80 hand transplants around the world, including Mark Cahill – the first British man to have the operation – in 2012.
Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay performed the first UK hand transplant on Mark Cahill at LGI and also did Mr King’s transplant.