Toronto (Jan. 11, 2016) – In a Canadian first, a multi-disciplinary team, led by Dr. Steven McCabe, has successfully completed the country's first transplant of the upper limb.

During a procedure lasting approximately 14 hours, a team of 18 surgeons attached the forearm and hand matched from a donor to a patient who had been evaluated as a suitable candidate. This required the cooperation of a variety of different surgical disciplines from a number of hospitals and the University of Toronto.

The 49-year-old female patient, who lost her arm below the elbow in an accident several years ago, is doing well and recovering from the procedure. The patient's rehabilitation will begin right away with a custom made splint and motion of the joints to avoid stiffness.

To protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient, the donor and their families, the hospital will not be releasing the date of the surgery or any possible identifying details.

A wide range of experts are required to successfully complete the pre-transplant, transplant and post-transplant phases. This procedure was made possible by the knowledge of immune suppression and the prevention of rejection in UHN's Multi-Organ Transplant Program, Toronto Western Hospital's Hand and Upper Extremity Transplant Program, and the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) that oversees the organ donation process.

"We are very proud to have successfully performed this forearm and hand transplant procedure," said Dr. McCabe, Director of TWH's Hand and Upper Extremity Transplant Program. "This is a tremendous accomplishment, and we are excited to be able to provide this procedure to patients who would benefit from it."

Dr. McCabe was part of the surgical team in Louisville, Kentucky that performed the world's first successful hand transplant in 1999. To date, over 110 hand transplants have taken place worldwide in more than 12 countries.

A media availability to speak to Dr. McCabe and Dr. Atul Humar, Director, Multi-Organ Transplant Program, UHN will be held on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. ET in the Toronto Western Hospital's Management Office: 399 Bathurst St. 1st floor McLellan Wing Rm. 438.

This procedure – the first in Canada – would not have been possible without a generous family who made the choice to give the gift of life in the midst of their grief. All Ontarians can give hope to those waiting for transplantation by registering consent to organ and tissue donation at It only takes two minutes to be a hero.

The Multi-Organ Transplant Program at UHN is the largest in Canada and within the top five in North America, performing more than 500 organ transplants a year – more than half of all transplants in Ontario – and providing lifelong follow-up care to almost 5,000 patients.

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Please credit: "Courtesy of University Health Network"

About Toronto Western Hospital

Toronto Western Hospital has been serving the health care needs of its culturally diverse local community for more than 100 years. Home to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, one of the largest combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America, the Toronto Western Hospital is a leader in medical research and also offers expertise in community and population health and musculoskeletal health and arthritis. The Toronto Western Hospital, along with the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About University Health Network

University Health Network consists of Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Trillium Gift of Life Network: 416 619 2327

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636

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