Zion Harvey, an eight-year-old boy from Maryland, is the first child to undergo a successful double hand transplant surgery. The procedure took place at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he, his mother, and doctors gave a press conference yesterday to show off his new hands.
“I just want to say this, never give up on your dreams. It will come true,” he says in the video below. “I don’t know what a child’s hands look like,” he said in the video above from Sky News.
At two years old, Zion contracted a severe infection that forced doctors to amputate both his hands and feet. He’s also had a successful kidney transplant and now has prosthetic legs, but he had to adapt his life to deal with having no hands.
Then things changed. An anonymous family agreed to donate the limbs of their newly-deceased child in order to help Zion have a more full life.
“I think the difficulty is finding a family that has the courage to relinquish the arms of a child who just died, and give hope and life and quality of life to a child who’s still living,” said the hospital’s transplant program director, Dr. Scott Levin.
“One of the things that’s unique about Zion is that he already had kidney transplant,” said Dr. Benjamin Chang, co-director of the hand transplant program of the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia and Associate Division Chief of Plastic Surgery at Penn Medicine. “He was on medication for rejection and so essentially we could piggy back off of that same medication.”
Zion isn’t taking anything for granted. The highly-articulate, incredibly positive boy offered this statement to his doctors and hospital staff at the news conference: “I wanna say thank you guys for helping me down this bumpy road.”
Zion will spend several weeks in physical rehab before returning home to Baltimore.