The UK’s first hand transplant patient has told how he saved his wife’s life by performing CPR after she suffered cardiac arrest.
Ten years after Mark Cahill, 61, had the operation at Leeds General Infirmary, the former pub owner has revealed how it changed his life.
It’s like my own hand. I know it’s someone else’s hand, but I think it’s part of me,” he said.
And six years after the operation, Mr Cahill used his new hand to perform CPR on his wife Sylvia, keeping her alive for 10 minutes from cardiac arrest before paramedics arrived.
The UK’s first patient to have a hand transplant has told how he saved his wife’s life by performing CPR after she suffered cardiac arrest (pictured together)
Ten years after Mark Cahill (left), 61, had the operation at Leeds General Infirmary, the former pub owner has revealed how it changed his life
He said: “She is fit and well today. It was using my transplanted hand. So it also saved someone else’s life, that’s fantastic.
Mr Cahill understands how difficult it must be for families faced with a specialist nurse asking for a donation so soon after a tragic event in their lives.
“It must be a terrible decision for them to make. You can see the hand while you cannot see the other organs.
“I am so happy with the families who accepted. And I’m so glad I had one, that somebody did it for me.
He said: “It’s a sad thing but they gave me this new hand for 10 years.”
Mr Cahill said: ‘She is fine today. It was using my transplanted hand. So that also saved someone else’s life, that was fantastic’
Pictured: Mr Cahill, who was the first person in the UK to have a hand transplant in 2012, with surgeon Simon Kay, at Leeds General Infirmary
By sharing his experience, Mr. Cahill was able to help Corinna Hutton prepare for her own double hand transplant.
Ms Hutton lost her hands and legs to sepsis in 2013 and feared the procedure after being warned it could take ‘months’ for her to accept the new hands as her own.
“He was able to tell me what it was really like to live with,” she said. ‘That’s how I needed it. Cautious and careful, it wasn’t me.
“It’s been incredibly life changing. I’m so grateful. To be able to touch my son’s hair, touch his skin, feel the warmth, things like that. It blows your mind. You take that for granted so easily.
She said the first few months after the transplant were very difficult, but the breakthrough came after around five months when she went to Glastonbury and was ‘back to me’.
Mr Cahill understands how difficult it must be for families faced with a specialist nurse asking for a donation so soon after a tragic event in their lives
By sharing his experience, Mr Cahill was able to help Corinna Hutton prepare for her own double hand transplant
“Since then there has been steady improvement,” she said. “Even now, four years later, every week I can do something new or something that beat me.”
“The minute I woke up, they were mine. They were instantly mine. They looked like mine, they felt like mine, they were mine.
“Then I had this guilt trip right away, thinking someone had just died and given their hands to me. I never want to forget that. Every time I celebrate my hands, I think about how which another family is doing.
Unlike Mr Cahill, Ms Hutton met her donor’s family.
She said: “They can see it, smell it and touch it with my hands. It’s just breathtaking, isn’t it?
Six years after the operation, Mr Cahill used his new hand to perform CPR on his wife Sylvia, keeping her alive for 10 minutes from cardiac arrest before paramedics arrived.
Chris King, 63, from Rossington, near Doncaster, received a double hand transplant in 2016 after losing all of his fingers except his thumbs in a horrific accident at work.
“It was an oddly wonderful trip,” Mr. King said. “Life has returned to a good state.”
Mr King said that although he never really thinks his hands come from someone else, he regularly thinks of the dealer.
“I wonder how he was. Was he a family boy? Did he have a daughter or a son? he said. “He was a biker, because I love motorcycles?
He said he was distressed for writing a thank you letter to the donor’s family, whom he has not met. And, shortly after the operation, he said he spent an entire day crying for the deceased and his family.
“I was crying and thinking about the donor – how was he? And I guess they cried a lot themselves.
Mr King said the trip had not been easy since 2016 but would not hesitate to do it again.
He said he was amazed at how fast his fingernails were growing. And he said he knew he had accepted his new hands when he found himself biting his nails – which he hasn’t done since, on the advice of doctors.
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