2019 Advances in Medicine

Many of you will have seen in the news recently that quadruple amputee Corinne Hutton underwent a double hand transplant on 7 January 2019. This news got me thinking about developments in medicine and also about raising awareness of important medical issues.

It has been reported that Corinne suffered acute pneumonia and sepsis in 2013 and nearly lost her life as a result. Initially she was given a 5% chance of survival. Professor Andrew Hart, Consultant Hand and Plastic Surgeon, reportedly performed the surgery to remove her hands and lower legs in 2013 and her life was saved. Professor Hart was reportedly also involved in the 12 hour hand transplant operation she underwent this year at Leeds General Infirmary.

Since her amputations in 2013, it is reported that Corinne has tirelessly campaigned to help raise awareness of organ and limb donation and she even set up a charity called Finding Your Feet. She now devotes her life to the charity supporting amputees throughout the UK.

Ballroom dancing lessons

In addition to founding this charity, Corinne’s motivation saw her become the first female quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, she has climbed Ben Nevis in Scotland, she has abseiled, cycled around the Isle of Arran, took up skiing and ballroom dancing lessons. She has even raised awareness by posing nude, whilst being painted with organs and tissue that are apparently transplantable, to raise awareness.

Her charity has reportedly raised more than £700,000 through fundraising and donations.

Able to move her fingers

Over the years since 2013, doctors had been working to find suitable hands which were a match for Corinne in terms of blood group, skin tone and size. These were finally found and the transplant has now gone ahead. Corinne posted a video from her hospital bed shortly after the operation stating that she could already move her fingers.

Five double hand transplants

Whilst it may seem incredible that such surgery can be carried out, Corinne is not the first. In actual fact the doctor who led the team who performed Corinne’s transplant has already performed five previous double hand transplants in the UK, the first of which was undertaken in 2016. And it must also be recognised that this positive outcome for Corinne would not have been possible without someone selflessly making a decision to be a donor after a tragedy. Corinne has reported through her charity that she will be forever grateful to this unknown family.

Wonderful medical treatment

This story just goes to show how medical treatment really can be incredible and I, for one, enjoyed reading the stories about Corinne and the wonderful medical treatment it appears she has received. This is an uplifting story in a world where many media reports relate to difficulties with healthcare services, and things that have gone so sadly wrong causing people to suffer harm as a result.

It also, I think, raises the importance of prompt treatment when a patient suffers pneumonia and sepsis. In Corinne’s case, her life was saved by treatment for a condition that could, so easily have resulted in her death. She has gone on to achieve many things and raise lots of awareness which is very important.