This week, something pretty exciting happened in the medical community. Zion Harvey, an 8-year-old boy from Baltimore, Maryland, became the first child to ever receive a double hand transplant. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia released this video, sharing Zion’s story and showing incredible footage from the operation.
Zion’s struggles with health started at an incredibly young age. At just 2 years old, Zion suffered from a sepsis infection that almost killed him and resulted in severe organ failure. In order to save his life, doctors were forced to amputate both his hands and his feet.
After two years of dialysis, he received a kidney donation from his mom. Ever since then, he’s been living an inspiring and, for all intensive purposes, normal life. In the video you’ll see him playing foosball, playing musical instruments, using an iPad, and doing any number of normal daily activities. He’s always got a smile on his face, and his positive outlook on life and the people around him is incredible to witness.
Zion was monitored for 18 months by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before he was deemed a candidate for the surgery, and the fact that the transplant ever even took place was almost a miracle in itself. The surgery is incredibly difficult, particularly among children, candidates are rare, and finding a two-hand donor that matches a candidate is almost unheard of. Despite the odds, though, they were able to find a match for Zion just 4 months after adding him to the waiting list.
The surgery itself is quite complicated, and it took a team of 40 medical personnel ten hours to successfully complete the operation. The results, though? An ecstatic 8-year-old who will live the rest of his life with two working hands.
There’s still some work ahead of Zion. He’ll require several more weeks at a rehabilitation unit and lots of hand therapy, and he’ll have to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of his life in order to avoid rejection of his new hands. Compared to the challenges he’s overcome already in his life, though, these are barely even bumps in the road.
We’re so excited to have had a chance to witness such an amazing milestone in pediatric surgery, and we couldn’t be more happy for Zion and his family. We can’t wait to see everything life has in store for this incredible little boy!