He can read and write! Youngest double hand transplant patient stuns with his recovery

By Robyn Lucas
19 July 2017

"When I was two I had to get my hands cut off because I was sick."

Simple things such as tying your shoe laces or using a knife and fork are often taking for granted – but for one little boy, it was all he could ever hope for.

When little Zion Harvey was just two years old, he contracted a life-threatening infection, which meant doctors had to amputate his hands.

In his own words: "When I was two I had to get my hands cut off because I was sick."

As a result he couldn’t properly dress, feed or wash himself, or even cut his own food, his mom Pattie said.

But in 2015, the then eight-year-old became the youngest person to successfully undergo a double hand transplant. And 18 months later, Zion is doing all those day-to-day tasks and more!

PHOTO: YouTube/The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia PHOTO: YouTube

The intricate surgery took place in July 2015 at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when a suitable donor of a similar age became available.

During the 10-hour, 40-minute procedure, four medical teams were able to reconnect nerve, blood vessels, tendons from the donor to Zion's limbs.

Within days of Zion's surgery, he was able to move his fingers with the help of his other limbs. Soon after, he began daily occupational therapy that included video games, exercises using finger lights and puppets, as well as day-to-day tasks such as writing and using a fork and knife.

And his hard work paid off! Now the little boy can move his transplant hands as well as feel and touch objects – he also fulfilled his mom’s wish and started cutting his own food without help.

When doctors asked him what he most wanted to do after his recovery, Zion said he just wanted to play baseball.

Now, 18 months after his surgery, little Zion is already gripping and swinging a baseball bat like a pro!

"His brain is communicating with his hands,” lead surgeon Dr Scott Levin said of his patient last year. “His brain says for his hands to move and they move. And that in and of itself is remarkable."

Sources: bbc.com, metro.co.uk, timeslive.co.za

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