Double Hand Transplant Recipient Recovering

Jeff Kemper of Augusta, Ga., continues to recover in stable condition following his groundbreaking surgery on Monday: the first double hand transplant in the United States. According to NPR and the Associated Press, surgeons at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC) wrapped up the procedure in just under nine hours, attaching both hands simultaneously.

If all goes to plan, Kemper will get to hold his 13-year-old daughter for the first time since a bacterial infection destroyed his hands and feet a decade ago. Transplant patients have to spend the rest of their lives taking a number of medications to suppress immune functions that would otherwise reject foreign tissue and organs. Those medications, in turn, open the floodgate for higher chances of diabetes and infections. However, UPMC used a procedure aimed at reducing the amount of medications Kemper will have to take.

In other transplant news, the first U.S. face transplant recipient appeared before the media for the first time, according to BBC News. Connie Culp was shot in the face in 2004. Surgeons were able to replace 80 percent of her missing face with that of deceased donor.

Medical science can't quite turn back the clock on such catastrophic injuries and afflictions, but cases such as these are encouraging.

Learn more at How Face Transplants Work How Organ Transplants Work How Your Immune System Works

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.