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Double hand transplant recipient will swing on the monkey bars

By Cathryn Wellner / August 14, 2015
Zion Harvey in hospital after hand transplant; photo clip from NBC video below

Zion Harvey in hospital before hand transplant; photo clip from NBC video below

Zion Harvey lost his hands when he was a toddler. A bacterial infection ravaged his body. He lost his hands and feet to gangrene and needed a kidney transplant. The two-year-old not only survived. He grew into a normal, boisterous, cheerful 8-year-old. With leg prosthetics he could run and jump. Using his forearms he could write, feed himself, read, and play computer games.

What he could not do was toss a football or swing on the monkey bars. So when the courageous little boy was offered the chance to become the world’s first hand transplant recipient, he agreed.

Zion was already taking immunosuppressant drugs to keep his body from rejecting the transplanted kidney. So he was ready for the delicate surgery when a pair of hands became available. Thanks to the kindness of the parents whose child died, that little one’s hands are now attached to Zion. After incredibly complex and lengthy surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Zion has hands that will grow with him.

Watching the NBC video, I was struck by the confidence and joy of the small boy and the love and admiration of his mother. Zion Harvey has not been limited by the extraordinary challenges he has faced. His spirit has blossomed in a family that could teach all of us a lot about love.

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