Rene Chavez: North Carolina's first hand transplant

Patient speaks about how he is moving his life forward following the complex operation

Duke's first hand transplant was performed on May 27, 2016. Led by surgeon Dr. Linda Cendales, two teams worked to attach a donor hand and forearm onto the left arm of Rene Chavez, 54.

Chavez, who lives in Laredo, Texas, lost his hand in an accident when he was four-years-old. Now, just a few months after surgery, and participating in daily four-hour occupational therapy sessions, Chavez is gaining the use of his new left hand.

The highly complex, 12-hour procedure was performed May 27, 2016, by a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, operating room staff and technicians, and was led by Linda Cendales, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and director of Duke’s hand transplant program.

The transplant marks the inauguration of a clinical trial at Duke to determine the safety and efficacy of hand transplantation, and the efficacy of a new anti-rejection drug called belatacept.

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