The first hand-transplant program on the West Coast was introduced Monday at UCLA, where experts put out a call for people willing to take part in a clinical study of the procedure.
According to the university, nine people have received hand transplants in the United States since 1999. Dr. Kodi Azari, surgical director of the hand-transplantation program and an associate professor in the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the UCLA Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, was one of the lead surgeons on five of those operations.
The new program at UCLA is only the fourth of its type in the nation.
Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil, UCLA executive chair of surgery and chief of the liver and pancreas transplantation division, said the any number of potential patients could benefit from the clinical trial.
"We are at the beginning of a new frontier," Busuttil said. "Solid organ transplants are now routinely performed to save patients' lives. Now we'll be performing composite tissue transplants to enhance their quality of life."
Azari said the clinical trial will confirm that surgical methods are successful while giving doctors a chance to study the return of function in transplanted hands and the safety of anti-rejection drugs.
More information is available on the university's website.