Surgeons remove world's first transplanted hand

Surgeons have removed the hand of the world's first hand-transplant patient at a secret hospital location in Britain.

Surgeons have removed the hand of the world's first hand-transplant patient at a secret hospital location in Britain.

Australian microsurgeon Professor Earl Owen said the hand was removed in a short operation at an undisclosed London hospital.

He said the hand was removed at the request of New Zealander Clint Hallam after his body irreversibly rejected the organ because he failed to follow the correct treatment.

Professor Owen co-led the international transplantation team which attached Mr Hallam's new hand in a revolutionary operation in 1998.

Mr Hallam, who is wanted on fraud charges in Australia and New Zealand, said on Friday that his body and mind had said "enough is enough" .

The amputation brings to an end an exasperating two and a half years for doctors, who have been frustrated by Mr Hallam's disappearances and his failure to take medication regularly.

Prof Owen said Mr Hallam is now recovering in an undisclosed hospital under an assumed name at his own request and had signed an exclusive deal with a magazine.

In January 1999, three months after his operation, Mr Hallam "suddenly left the concerned care of his doctors and disappeared for over two months", Prof Owen said in a statement.

He added: "We know that he voluntarily went without drugs for weeks at a time over the following two years, and failed to follow the plan he willingly agreed to before the actual transplant was performed."

Prof Owen said Mr Hallam had signed a statement before the operation, admitting to only intermittently taking his immuno-suppressant medication and not doing the required physical therapy exercises. The amputated hand will be studied to help gain knowledge for future transplants.

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