24-year-old Monika More, who is a resident of Kurla, Mumbai, will get discharged today after spending over 4 weeks at Global Hospital, Mumbai. The patient, who underwent a 16-hour double hand transplant procedure successfully on August 28, has recovered very well and is excited to get a new lease of life and will attempt to become independent after a gap of almost 6 years.
Monika More, who was a teenager then, lost her both hands in 2014 after falling into a deadly platform gap at Ghatkopar Station. She tried to use prosthetic limbs for few months, but soon realised that they are practically useless and more of a burden.
Two years back, she was registered for Bilateral Hand Transplantation at Global Hospital, Mumbai. On several occasions, there were potential organ donors who could have donated hands for Monika. But she missed the opportunities, as the donor families did not agree for hand donation. Finally, a suitable donor was identified in Chennai. A young man was brain-dead and his family generously agreed for hand donation. The donor hands were flown in from Chennai to Mumbai by a chartered flight, and bilateral hand transplant surgery was successfully performed on August 28. Now, Monika is getting discharged today and wishes to live life the way she has always imagined.
Dr Nilesh G Satbhai, Consultant Plastic, Aesthetic, Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgeon, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, said, “After performing the complex procedure successfully, Monika was put on immunosuppressant medication. She was kept in the transplant ICU in a separate room, with a dedicated nurse as strict care and isolation was needed. Regular dressings were done for both the hands. The patient was able to sit up and walk with support for her arms on the 3rd day itself. She was given physiotherapy twice a day along with breathing and shoulder exercises. She initially had a plaster slab above the elbow till the hand to support the bones, and will need splints for more than a month.”
Dr Satbhai added, “In the next couple of weeks, she will be asked to move her elbow as well. Her hand and fingers are expected to start moving after 3-4 months as the nerve healing and recovery happens. The muscles, tendons and bones would also heal by then. The patient will need help with her day-to-day-activities till then. But, once the hands start functioning, and exercise and physiotherapy progress, she will be more independent. Her functional recovery will continue over the next year and half. After spending 4 weeks in the hospital (2 weeks in the TICU, 2 weeks in the HDU), Monika is now on oral medications only, and the immunosuppression doses have started tapering now. The patient has recovered smoothly and responded very well to the treatment. She will have to adhere to the follow-up instructions and continue exercising while at home.”
The movements of the patient’s mother and brother were restricted at the hospital. “The patient’s family was in touch with her via phone and video calls to minimize the chances of infection. Since the patient will be more prone to infections; she will have to stay isolated while at home for several months. No visitors will be allowed at home. The patient has been instructed to avoid all social events and gatherings, restrict stepping out of the house unnecessarily, and follow the COVID protocols and guidelines.”
Elated patient Monika More stated, “I became emotional after the transplant as I strongly believed that I will get new hands and can fulfil my dream. Earlier, I would avoid attending functions or weddings as I couldn’t apply mehndi on my hands. But, after my hands get functional, I will apply mehndi, paint, and do activities such as eating, bathing, combing hair, and cooking on my own. I always wanted to become independent and I am happy that I will be able to do so. I thank my late father, mother and brother, the family of the donor, who donated hands and other organs and the doctors from Global Hospital who gave me a fresh lease of life.”
“In the time of pandemic, a family in Chennai became a beacon of hope for the young girl by deciding to donate hands as this is very rare donation. We are glad that after a successful west India’s First Bilateral Hand Transplant, Monika would be able to lead a normal life post her recovery. The successful completion of the surgery and discharge of the patient is significant as this was never attempted before by any private hospital in India. Timely support by the authorities ensured safe and speedy transport of the organ from Chennai as keeping the transit time minimal was crucial. I hope that this successful surgery would bring hope to many other patients waiting for organs and create a drive towards organ donation especially of hands.,” concluded Dr Vivek Talaulikar, Chief Executive Officer, Global Hospital, Mumbai.