Double hand transplant man feels ‘whole again’

The first person in the UK to have a double hand transplant says he feels “whole again” as he looks forward to holding a bottle of beer and wearing shirts with real buttons.

Chris King, 57, lost both his hands, except the thumbs, in an accident involving a metal pressing machine at work three years ago.

Now Mr King has become the second person to have a hand transplant at the UK’s specialist centre for the operation at Leeds General Infirmary, and the first to have both hands replaced.

Recovering after the surgery, he said: “I couldn’t wish for anything better. It’s better than a lottery win because you feel whole again.”

Mr King, who is single and from near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said the operation appears to have been a complete success.

He said he already has some movement. “They look absolutely tremendous,” he said.

“They’re my hands. They really are my hands. My blood’s going through them. My tendons are attached. They’re mine. They really are. I can’t wait to get all this (the bandages) off and look at them properly.”

He said: “It was just like the hands were made-to-measure. They absolutely fit. And it’s actually opened a memory because I could never remember what my hands looked like after the accident because that part of my brain shut down.”

Mr King recalled how he spent three years getting used to having no hands and resigned himself to living an adapted life despite little reminders from his five-year-old niece.

“A couple of weeks ago she was holding my thumbs, walking with me, and she said ‘Uncle Chris, when are you going to grow some fingers?’,” he said.

Mr King said his passion was cycling and he had already had a bike adapted so he could use it.

Now, he is itching to ride properly and just start doing simple things, such as gardening with his ride-on mower.

And he is most looking forward to holding a bottle of beer properly.

“A bottle of Timothy Taylor’s — that’s what I can’t wait to get back for,” he said.

Mr King has gone back to work at Eaton Lighting, in Doncaster, where the accident happened and he said the firm has been “brilliant”.


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