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Arm Transplants Performed by Mexican Doctors: Would you Give Your Right Arm?

Only 104 human limbs have ever been transplanted, 4 of them in Mexico

Mexico´s National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition "Salvador Zubiran" (INCMNSZ by its initials in Spanish) of the Health Ministry, is the only medical unit in Latin America to perform two successful upper limb transplants. Because of its high complexity, require the participation of a health professionals multidisciplinary team, from more than 15 specialities.

At a press conference, was reported that Mexico is one of the 19 countries where it has been conducted the bilateral transplant of arms, the first was in 2012 to a 52-year-old patient, who lost his forearms because of an electrical shock. Currently, he presents mobility at both limbs.

The second surgery was performed in October 2015, in a 51-year-old male patient transplanted of both complete arms. Until today, is considered the world´s largest limb transplantation.

In his participation, the Head of Plastic Surgery of this institute, Dr. Martin Iglesias Morales, pointed out that it is a long medical procedure that lasts 24 hours, and has a rehabilitation time between one and four years in average, so it is necessary to supervise closely to the patient and the recovery of the transplanted limb.

Dr. Patricia Butron Gandarillas, attached to the Department of Plastic Surgery, reported that the intervention involves the transferation of extremities composed of tissues such as skin, muscle, bone, joints, ligaments and also the connection of the vascular and nervous system.

The extremity, she said, is transferred with a microsurgical technique to a receptor previously studied by the multidisciplinary medical team of the institute, ensuring that is a physically and mentally healthy candidate, that requires a bilateral transplant and that has a stable social environment. The donor must be diagnosed with brain death.

The candidate for the transplant should not suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, lung disease, or have a history of alcoholism or smoking, because these diseases alter the functional characteristics of the blood circulation, that over time, cause the implant loss or some Trans or postoperative complication.

Psychologically, it is important to assess the patient's personality, maturity, ability to manage adverse situations and verify that is a mentally stable person, and that have family support, said the Head of the Department of Outpatient Clinic, Dr. Judith Gonzalez.

Dr. Josefina Alberu Gomez, attached to the Department of Transplantation of the Institute, said that the success of this type of surgery is based on immunosuppressive medicines for the treatment of post-surgical patients.

Finally, both patients agreed that with this surgery, they have regained much of their quality of life that lost after the accident were their limbs were amputated.

In the world, there have been transplanted 104 limbs, four of them have been made in Mexico. Upper limb transplants are an emerging treatment that allows patients to be independent in their daily social and economic activities.

*The National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition "Salvador Zubiran", is one of Mexico´s Ministry of Health Institutes that provides tertiary care to adults.

It was named after Dr. Salvador Zubiran, a Mexican doctor who educated great physicians and had a transcendental career in the public health sector in Mexico.

Dr. Salvador Zubiran fostered the research and study of several illnesses, the formation of specialists, and the widening of infrastructure and necessary equipment. He was a leader and public promoter of creating the right conditions to benefit the population.

The National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition "Salvador Zubiran" is the medical institution in Mexico that has the largest number of researchers, and scientific production.


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