A man who underwent the first full double arm transplant in the world has revealed that the surgery was successful. Felix Gretarrson, 49, from the town of Kpavogur in Iceland, lost both arms after he got electrocuted while trying to fix a power line in 1998.
Felix’s both arms were set on fire and doctors had to operate on him 54 times while he was in a coma for three months. The injuries were so serious that doctors had to remove both of his arms to save his life.
After coming out of the coma, the electrician fell into substance abuse to deal with the trauma of the accident.
In 2007, Felix saw an advertisement on TV for a lecture at the University of Iceland by renowned surgeon Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard who is known for performing the first successful hand transplant in 1998. Dr Dubernard told him that there was a possibility of performing the operation, but he would need to move to France for the preparations.
The surgeon accepted his application four years later after which he launched a fundraising campaign to arrange money for the operation.
On the 23 year anniversary of his accident on January 12 this year, Felix had a double arm and shoulder transplant in a 15-hour surgery.
After hundreds of hours of rehabilitation work, Felix can now move his arms. He is now fighting to hug his children again and his wife and grandchildren for the first time.
“The first thing I thought was who the f**k does this on purpose, because the pain when I woke up was so excruciating. It was like there was two trucks parked on each of my shoulders. Having been through hospitalization before I kind of knew the first time it feels like the end of the world and that you’re going to be a patient for the rest of your life. But when you recover you know it’s just temporary this s**t will pass so I put my heels down and put my head down,” Felix was quoted according to Daily Star.
He said, “The feeling in the nerves can be a little painful when they grow. If you poke my arm I can feel the nerves inside even if I can’t feel the skin.”
He added, “I am moving the elbow in water, my bicep is now working and that’s only five months after. I just noticed the veins in my arms are starting to expand in the heat and that doesn’t happen unless automatic nervous system is working. I am so hopeful that I am going to be able to move my hands as well which nobody expected, except me.”
He was laying on his back in recovery for six weeks.
In March, Felix was moved to rehabilitation. His body rejected the new limbs twice and he even got a painful skin fungus, however, Felix beat the odds and is making incredible progress.
Doctors said that nerves grow on average a millimeter every day. They estimate the nerves will reach his elbow in a year and his hands in two.
“I have achieved something that wasn’t supposed to be possible if I wouldn’t have pushed it and pushed it,” Felix said.