Double arm transplant recipient: ‘I want to hold my children’s hands’

Double arm transplant recipient: ‘I want to hold my children’s hands’

Atilla Kavdır, the recipient of Turkey's second double-arm transplant, poses for cameras with his doctors at Akdeniz University Hospital on March 12, 2012. (Photo: AA)

March 12, 2012, Monday/ 12:43:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Atilla Kavdır, who is now recovering after a double-arm transplant surgery in January, has said he wants to hold the hands of his children and take a walk with them after he fully recovers.

The recipient of Turkey's second double-arm transplant, Kavdır appeared before the press on Monday at Akdeniz University Hospital, where he underwent the surgery. Kavdır began his speech by thanking his donor and his doctors.

“I lived with no arms for 23 years. I am very happy to have arms after [all these] years. The first thing I want to do [after recovering] is to take a walk holding the hands of my children. I want to ride a motorcycle again. I want to drive a car,” he said when asked what he would like to do after he fully recovers.

Kavdır said he feels good and that he can feel his arms. “I can feel when someone touches my arms. I am [doing] very well,” he added.

In a landmark surgery in January, two arms and one leg were donated to Kavdır, who lost his arms and right leg when he was 11 years old, by the family of Ahmet Kaya. Kaya was seriously injured in a train accident in Uşak and declared brain dead in mid-January. Kaya's face was also donated and was successfully transplanted to 19-year-old Uğur Acar in Turkey's first face-transplant operation.

The hospital attempted the world's first triple-limb transplant on Kavdır. But Kavdır's situation saw a setback when his body rejected the transplanted leg, leaving surgeons no choice but to amputate it.

When asked about his feelings about the failed leg transplant, Kavdır said he does not feel sorry. “It did not work. I wish it had worked. My hands are enough for me,” he said.

Dr. Ömer Özkan, a professor from the plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery department at Akdeniz University's School of Medicine, who led the team that performed the surgery, also said that Kavdır is in good health. He said they expect to discharge him from the hospital in 10 days.

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