Nineteen-year-old Shreya Siddanagowda lost both her hands in an accident last year. With India’s first upper-arm double-hand transplant, however, the chemical engineering student now has reason to smile.
Shreya is the only daughter of Suma Nuggihalli and Fakirgowda Siddnagowder, a senior manager at Tata Motors, Pune. In September 2016, while returning by road from Pune to her college near Mangalore, the bus she was travelling in overturned, crushing her hands. She was rushed to a hospital, where both her arms had to be amputated at the elbows. In her words,
“My whole world collapsed and I couldn’t believe what had happened. However, I recovered emotionally in a few weeks because of the loving support of my family and close friends, even though momentary lapses into depression continued. When I was told by my mother that hand transplants were now being conducted in India, I got great strength and hope, and my disability began to look temporary…”
Four months later, Shreya began to use prosthetic limbs but was unhappy as these did not allow her to do most of her daily chores. Her uncertain wait for a hand donor finally ended in August this year.
Last week, 20-year-old Sachin, a final-year BCom student of Ernakulam’s Rajagiri College, was declared brain dead after suffering a fatal head injury in a motorcycle accident. His parents readily agreed to donate his hands and other organs for transplant.
Shreya’s body has accepted the transplanted hands and is showing good signs of recovery. She has been discharged from the hospital and put on an intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme.
Dr Mohit Sharma, part of the surgical team, said,
“Shreya is currently undergoing a regime of movements for her fingers, wrists, and shoulders. The elbow movements are planned to be started in a couple of weeks. We expect that she will regain 85 percent of hand function in the next one and a half years.”
The operation took place at Kochi’s Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences led by Dr Subramania Iyer, HOD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He said,
“This is the first time that an upper-arm transplant has been done in India or even Asia. Only nine such transplants have been conducted in the world till now.”