First Person in the UK to Get a Hand Transplant Is Still Grateful to the Donor’s Family for Their “Terrible Decision”

First Person in the UK to Get a Hand Transplant Is Still Grateful to the Donor’s Family for Their “Terrible Decision”

The first ever person in the United Kingdom to undergo a successful hand transplant says he is still incredibly grateful to the family who decided to donate it 10 years after the surgery, stressing that he understands how hard it must have been for them to do that.

61 year old Mark Cahill needed this operation a decade ago after being diagnosed with severe gout.

The doctor who performed the incredibly tricky transplant was Prof Simon Kay, at Leeds General Infirmary, who used a revolutionary technique.

Now, Mark, who is a former pub landlord living in Greetland, West Yorks, says that he empathizes with the families who are faced with such a decision to donate their loved one’s limb so soon after a tragic event.

“That must be such a terrible decision for them to make. You can see the hand whereas you cannot see the other organs. I am so chuffed with the families who have agreed to it. It is a sorrowful thing but they have given me that new hand for 10 years,” the man stated.

As it turns out, about 6 years after the transplant, Mark saved the life of his wife Sylvia when she suffered a cardiac arrest.

Using the newer appendage, the man performed CPR on Sylvia for no less than 10 minutes, keeping her alive until the paramedics finally arrived.

Referring to the hand he had received and which enabled him to do this, Mark noted that “it saved somebody else’s life as well. It’s been fantastic.”

Corrine Hutton is another similar case.

The Glasgow resident received not one but two hands in a transplant performed by the same medical team almost 4 years ago.

Corrine shared her own view regarding life after such a surgery, saying that “Being able to touch my son’s hair, touch his skin, feel the warmth, things like that. It blows your mind. You take this for granted so easily.”

Corrine lost both her hands and legs as a result of sepsis back in 2013 and it was Mark himself who helped her decide to undergo this surgery, telling her that she “can’t live in cotton wool.”

About meeting her donor’s family, Corrine says that “They can see her and feel her and touch her with my hands.”

That being said, her wish is for someone’s choice to donate their organs in case of death to be legally binding.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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