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Adapt and conquer

I seem to be saying this more and more lately, and it’s perfectly true: we live in an age of miracles.

21-year-old student from Pune and the curious case of her changing hands
Globally, less than 200 hand transplants have been conducted, and no scientific evidence exists to record changes in skin tone or shape of the hand. Doctors say this is the first such case, perhaps.

“Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together,” was the first sentence Shreya Siddanagowder wrote in her notebook a year after her hand transplant.

Today, her handwriting almost matches her original, but what has left doctors surprised is how the colour of Shreya’s hands, which once belonged to a 20-year-old man from Kerala until his death in August 2017, had changed to match the rest of her skin tone.

“I don’t know how the transformation occurred. But it feels like my own hands now. The skin colour was very dark after the transplant, not that it was ever my concern, but now it matches my tone,” says 21-year-old Shreya, who underwent Asia’s first inter-gender hand transplant.

Back in Kochi, where she underwent the double-hand transplant at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), surgeons are researching whether female hormones could hold the key to such changes.

“We are hoping to publish two cases of hand transplant in a scientific journal. It will take time. We are recording the colour change in (Shreya’s) case, but we need more evidence to understand the change in shape of the fingers and hands. An Afghan soldier, who received a double-hand transplant from a male donor here, had also noticed a slight change in skin tone but he died in Afghanistan last week. We could not document much,” says Dr Subramania Iyer, head of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Amrita Institute.

Yes, there are pics documenting the change in both size/shape and skin color, and they’re nothing short of remarkable—as if having near-fully-functional transplanted hands wasn’t remarkable enough to begin with. The article is paywalled, but good ol’ 12ft Ladder worked just fine for me. I have a few other handy-dandy de-paywalling links which I really need to put up over in the sidebar, I’m thinking, although there’s always the option of just disabling Javascript temporarily in your web browser too.

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