Richard Mangino from Massachusetts suffered from a serious bloodstream infection in 2002 and lost his lower arms and legs. This left him unable to do some of his favorite activities such as drawing, playing piano, and tossing the football around with his grandkids.
In 2011, Mangino underwent a double hand transplant and the surgery was successful. A team of over 40 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, radiologists and physician assistants operated for more than 12 hours to perform his surgery.
The transplant was a very complicated procedure and involved multiple tissues including skin, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones and blood vessels. World wide there have only been 85 hand transplant surgeries, and not all of them have been successful.
However, in 2010 a study was published that concluded that transplant receipts should be able to regain muscle movement and eat, drive, grasp objects, ride a bicycle or motorbike, shave, use the telephone, and write.
The Boston Globe interviewed Mangino and his wife, Carole in 2012 on how life was after the surgery:
“One day in July, Mangino told his family, “I’m going to try to swim, go get the camera,” he recalled. Carole Mangino said she held her breath as he took his strokes. “I said, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going all the way to the end!’ ” Her husband easily swam the length of the pool and then held up his arms in victory.
“It was like watching someone taking his first steps,’’ said Carole, who was so moved she cried. Mangino did drive before the transplant, using a device on the steering wheel his prostheses fit into, enabling him to turn. Playing football with grandsons Trevor, 6, and Nicholas, 4, is new, and that is when the boys, who had not known their grandfather with his original hands, finally realized the transplant had changed him, Carole said.
Her husband, she said, “is on a cloud,’’ and the bumps in the road have been relatively minor.
Mangino takes medication for nerve pain in his arms, which bothers him especially at night. Pomahac said doctors do not have a good explanation for this type of pain. “The nerves are regrowing, and they not only provide sensations but provide some random pain stimulus,” he said. “It will eventually go away.’’
Now the 68-year-old man is doing well and even plans to write a book on his experience.