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news News Tuesday, July 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:20 AM - Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:20 AM

Hand transplant patient growing more independent every day

Three years after history-making surgery, Zion is "comfortable living a normal life"

Hand transplant patient growing more independent every day

Scott Kozin, M.D., chief of staff of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia, loves to tell the story of two, four, six, eight.

At 2 years old, Zion developed a serious infection that required his hands and feet to be amputated. When 4 years old, he received a kidney transplant; the donor was his mother, Pattie. Zion was taking anti-rejection drugs to keep his new kidney functioning. At age 6, Zion came to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia for new prosthetic legs.

The evaluation of Zion’s lower extremities prior to his receiving those first prosthetics from the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital was the impetus that led to his hand transplantation. The idea to give Zion hands was possible because he met the prerequisite of being a transplant recipient and successfully taking immunosuppressant medications.

When 8 years old, Zion received the first bilateral pediatric hand transplantation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, along with help from Penn Medicine, Gift of Life and hand surgeons from the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, Dr. Kozin and Dan Zlotolow, M.D. During the 11-hour procedure, four teams of physicians worked to transplant the hands from the donor to Zion. The procedure required boney fixation, artery and venous anastomosis along with nerve and tendon reconstruction. The surgery was successful.

“The collaboration between these institutions was necessary to assemble the team and organize the players to orchestrate such a complex and demanding procedure that had never been performed on a child,” said Dr. Kozin.

Zion is now three years post-hand transplant surgery.

Now 11 years old, he is a happy pre-teen and learning to be independent. He enjoys cooking and sports. “Zion is so comfortable living his normal life,” said Pattie. “He enjoys playing laser tag with his friends, boxing, and is attending robotics camp this summer.”

Zion continues to have occupational and physical therapy in their hometown. His mom couldn’t be more happy with his progress. As Zion continues to grow and get taller, Pattie will bring him back to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital to be fitted for a new set of prosthetic legs. In the meantime, she is delighted that Zion is becoming more independent every day at home, at play and at school.