A boy who underwent a double hand transplant was able to fulfil his dream of swinging a baseball bat just a year after surgery.
Zion Harvey was also able to write and also feed and dress himself independently 18 months after the procedure which took nearly 11 hours.
The American youngster, who was aged eight when the procedure took place, is able to complete the tasks following months of occupational therapy and psychological support, according to a medical report published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.
The report also documents a series of setbacks, including treatment of numerous rejections of the hands and extensive rehabilitation.
Dr Sandra Amaral, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: “Our study shows that hand transplant surgery is possible when carefully managed and supported by a team of surgeons, transplant specialists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation teams, social workers and psychologists.
“Eighteen months after the surgery, the child is more independent and able to complete day-to-day activities.
“He continues to improve as he undergoes daily therapy to increase his hand function and psychosocial support to help deal with the ongoing demands of his surgery.”
In July last year, Chris King became the first person in the UK to have a double hand transplant in a pioneering operation at Leeds General Infirmary.
The new study documents the progress of the first double hand transplant surgery in a child.
Zion was already receiving immunosuppression medication for a kidney transplant which was needed after he contracted the life-threatening infection sepsis when he was two.
The infection also meant the youngster had to have his hands and feet amputated.
Before he underwent the double hand transplant, Zion had limited ability to dress, feed and wash himself using his residual limbs or specialist equipment.
When asked what he hoped to do following surgery, he told doctors he wanted to be able to climb monkey bars and grip a baseball bat.