Hand Transplant Recipient Recovering Faster Than Expected

by Graham Shelby

In all of human history, only a handful of people have had the experience Richard Edwards has every day: Looking at the end of his arm and seeing someone else’s hand.

Edwards is the recipient of only the third double-hand transplant ever. Surgeons performed the operation at Jewish Hospital in August.

Edwards says if you were looking at one of his arms, this is what you’d see: “You’ll see a scar all the way around that forearm. You’ll see a lighter skinned – and hairy – a lot longer hair on that donated hand.” His new hands came from an anonymous organ donor. Edwards says he hopes to someday meet the family of the man whose hands he received.

Edwards suffered severe burns and lost several fingers in a car fire. Since the operation, he’s made significant progress in physical therapy. He can extend and bend his fingers, brush his teeth and open a round doorknob. He has aspirations, too. “I’d like to be able to touch my wife’s skin – and feel it,” he says. “I’d like to be able to pull the trigger on a gun. I love shooting pistols. I love going hunting.”

His doctors have said they may clear him to go home to Oklahoma for Christmas.