Man who receives double-hand transplant feels 'whole again'

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Double Hand Transplant Patient 'Whole Again'

57-year-old Chris King lost both hands -- except his thumbs -- in an accident three years ago involving a metal pressing machine.

King, from England, underwent the UK's first double-hand transplant. The first single hand transplant occurred in 2012 to Mark Cahill, who encouraged King to have his operation.

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Cahill told King that they would shake hands one day.

To say King is happy with the results is an understatement.

"I couldn't wish for anything better," King said. "It's better than a lottery win because you feel whole again."

The hands fit with King's body seamlessly. "They're my hands. They really are my hands," King said. "My blood's going through them. My tendons are attached. They're mine. They really are."

Not only was this the first double-hand transplant, it was revolutionary in another way. Prof Kay, a consultant plastic surgeon, explained: "It's the first time as far as I'm aware that a hand transplant has been done which hasn't been above the wrist, which has been within the substance of the hand, which makes it much more difficult and more complex."

PHOTOS: See King and his new hands

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 The UK's first double hand transplant patient Chris King, from Doncaster, with his new hands at Leeds General Infirmary.
 The UK's first double hand transplant patient Chris King, from Doncaster, with his new hands at Leeds General Infirmary.
Consultant Plastic Surgeon Professor Simon Kay who performed the UK's first double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, on patient Chris King (right), from Doncaster.
Undated handout photo issued by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust of Consultant Plastic Surgeon Professor Simon Kay (position not known) and his team as they perform the UK's first double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, on patient Christ King, from Doncaster.
The UK's first double hand transplant patient Chris King, from Doncaster, with his new hands at Leeds General Infirmary.
Undated handout photo issued by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust of a before picture of the right hand of the UK's first double hand transplant patient Chris King, from Doncaster.
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King is eager to begin using his hands. He told the BBC he's looking forward to being able to perform everyday tasks like holding a beer and buttoning his shirt -- actions most people take for granted.

He has to somewhat relearn how to do these things: "And it's actually opened a memory because I could never remember what my hands looked like after the accident because that part of my brain shut down."

King was also an avid cyclist, and can pick up his passion once more.

While people might not think to donate their own or a family member's hand, King encouraged others to consider doing so. Prof Kay said there is a psychological impact, but according to King: "There's no greater gift."

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