Search led by BAPRAS surgeon begins for patient to undergo UK’s first hand transplant

Press release- 2 November 2011

Leeds Teaching Hospitals is making preparations to be the first centre in the UK to carry out hand transplant surgery with a service led by Professor Simon Kay, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgeons (BAPRAS). 

The Trust has recently written to plastic surgeons across the country to ask them to help in identifying possible adult patients who could undergo the pioneering procedure.

Professor Simon Kay has been working in close partnership with European centres which already offer the surgery in preparation for the procedure to start at Leeds General Infirmary.

“Leeds is extremely well placed to offer this new type of transplant surgery as we already have the expertise and facilities in place and excellent clinical outcomes,” Professor Kay said. 

“We are one of the best-known microsurgery units in Europe and the principles of transplanting a hand and lower limb are exactly the same as the work we already to reattach an existing hand or limb when it is severed in an accident, for example.

“Preparing for any new type of transplant surgery takes time and of course we need to ensure we have all the protocols in place for when the time comes. As part of this we need to start now in identifying a number of patients from around the country who could potentially be the first to undergo the surgery.

“NHS Blood and Transplant is working with us to establish the procedures for identifying potential donors, discussing donation with their next of kin and facilitating donation.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity as this type of surgery can transform the quality of life for patients who have lost one or both hands or arms.”

If all goes to plan the first hand/arm transplant could take place at Leeds General Infirmary within 12 months, with the hospital joining an elite group of centres across the world who have so far carried out around 60 successful procedures.

Patients who might qualify will need to meet a range of criteria and will be fully assessed before being put forward for a possible transplant. Plastic surgeons across the country are playing a key role in this patient selection process, but individuals who are interested in being considered can also contact the Leeds team directly by emailing