HE has made history as the first person in the world to have a hand transplant.
And now former pub landlord Mark Cahill has a simple wish – to hold his young grandson’s hand.
Mr Cahill, of Greetland, was told on Boxing Day that a donor hand was available.
And he underwent the procedure a day later in a pioneering eight-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary.
The man who ran the popular Shears pub in Greetland, said the move had changed his life.
He said: “Eight o’clock on Boxing Day night we got a phone call saying we may have a donor.
“As you can imagine, the day after Christmas it was quite a shock.
“I’m getting slight movement now, my feeling has just started coming back, but everything’s looking very, very good.
“Long term I won’t have 100% use of it, but obviously I’m going to have a lot more use than I had with the existing hand.
“I think I’ve dealt with it pretty well. The only thing you can’t do is know what is going to happen after the operation, and as it has turned out it is brilliant. I’m well happy.
“Hopefully I will be able to get back to work for a start, that’s a major difference.
“For a start I might be able to cut my food up, button my shirts, fasten a pair of shoelaces, and mainly I’ll be able to hold my grandson’s hand.”
And Mr Cahill added: “When I look at it and move it, it just feels like my hand.
“Right now it feels really good, it’s not a lot of pain, it looks good, it looks a great match and I’m looking forward to getting it working now.”
Mr Cahill, who is married to Sylvia and has one daughter, lost the use of his right hand due to severe gout, which also affects other parts of his body.
He is a former rugby league player but at one point had to use a wheelchair because the condition was so bad.
The operation, which was done by a team led by consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay, used a new technique which involved Mr Cahill having his non-functioning right hand removed during the same operation as the donor hand was transplanted.
Prof Kay said: “This operation is the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation over the last two years by a team including plastic surgery, transplant medicine and surgery, immunology, psychology, rehabilitation medicine, pharmacy and many other disciplines.
“The team was on standby from the end of November awaiting a suitable donor limb, and the call came just after Christmas.
“It was extremely challenging to be the first team in the UK to carry out such a procedure.
“It is still early days but indications are good and the patient is making good progress.”
Prof Kay said the operation took eight hours but the build up to the operation was just over two years.
He said that Mr Cahill was an “impressively phlegmatic man”.
Speaking about the use of the hand, Professor Kay said: “If all goes well, within 18 months I would hope that he has quite strong grasp and if all goes as well as I hope he’ll have good sensibility in the hand, good ability to feel and he’ll have a precision pinch which would be a huge improvement in every domain upon the hand that he had before.”
The hand, he said, had been given “at a time of enormous tragedy and loss”, adding: “I’d like to acknowledge the extraordinary gift and reinforce the point that organ donation of any kind plucks something positive from that awful tragedy of the loss of a loved one”.
The first-ever hand transplant recipient in France was New Zealander Clint Hallam, who later had his new hand removed.
Mr Hallam lost his original hand in a circular saw accident in prison in 1984.
He eventually decided he could not live with his new hand, which was taken from a motorcyclist who died in an accident. He said it felt like a dead man’s hand.
It was removed two years later in London.