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German Double Arm Transplant

German Double Arm Transplant

Karl Merk from Germany, becomes the world’s first double arm transplant patient….

A 55 year old farmer who lost both of his arms in an accident six years ago, has undergone a double arm transplant at the Munich Clinic, Germany.

Karl Merk had lived without arms for six years. After failing to successfully be fitted with prosthetic arms, he consulted the medical team at Munich University’s Rechts der Isar Clinic.

Kark Merk After The Accident That Severed Both His Arms

The 15 hour operation which involved 40 surgeons and health care professionals, was carried out in July last year, headed by Professor Hans Gunther, Dr. Christoph Hohnke and Prof Edgar Biemer. The donor arms were taken from a teenage boy who had died in a car accident.

The operation was extremely complicated. Surgeons had to expose the blood vessels, nerves and muscles before connecting them. All the blood vessels in the arms were injected with a preservation solution to stop them dieing during the procedure. The arms also had to be severed at exactly the same point as the recipient’s arm stumps so that the attachment could be a perfect fit.

Karl Merk And Doctors Edgar Biemer And Christoph Hoehnke

According to Edgar Biemer, the most crucial and complicated part of the whole operation was to make sure blood flow was established between the muscles in the new arm and the patient’s body – otherwise the arm muscles would soon wither.

Immediately following the operation, Merk had no mobility in his arms, but now after intensive physiotherapy, he is able to open doors and switch on/off light switches.

He said when he first woke up he could not believe it had been successful: “It was really overwhelming when I saw that I had arms again.”

Merk’s network of nerves are expected to expand at a rate of 0.04 inches (one millimeter) per day, and doctors say the nerves may eventually grow back in his hands after two years.

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