The world’s first double-leg transplant took place in Valencia, Spain this week, with a team led by reconstructive surgeon Pedro Cavadas. Officials told the press it will be a month before the surgeons know if the operation was a success, and in the meantime, the priority is to monitor how well the nerves and muscles perform.
Cavadas told the Spanish press that the patient, who has not been named, is a young male accident victim whose legs were injured above the knees, so artificial legs were not a viable solution.
"The only solution to enable him to get out of the wheelchair is the transplant," said Cavadas. The transplant was a collaboration between Spain’s National Transplant Organization, professionals from Cavadas’ Foundation, and the government.
The Spanish health authorities said the operation was "highly complex", and without precedent worldwide.
The rehabilitation process will be similar to that of arm transplants, except that in this case, the limbs have to support the weight of the body. The main objective will be to help the patient walk again. "That’s what we are hoping", said Rafael Matesanz, director of Spain’s National Transplant Organization.
Cavadas and his team specialize in reconstructive surgery for patients that require complex surgical intervention, especially where it involves microsurgery.