Hand Transplant Process

Get Evaluated

To schedule an evaluation appointment please call our Transplant Center patient care representative at 1-800-333-9013 or 
email UM-HANDTRANSPLANT@MED.UMICH.EDU. 

Your Hand Transplant Evaluation

Candidates for hand transplant require a comprehensive evaluation. The process includes patient education, medical records review, patient examination and often additional medical testing. Our multidisciplinary transplant team then reviews the case and makes a decision about the patient's suitability for a donor hand on a case by case basis.

Meeting with the Transplant Team and Testing

At the follow-up evaluation, the patient meets with several members of the transplant team, including a transplant surgeon, transplant physician, social worker, psychologist, occupational therapist  and a nurse educator. The evaluation appointment involves a variety of tests, such as blood tests and an x-ray of the arm or hand.

Placement on the Hand Transplant Waiting List

Patients who are eligible for a hand transplant are placed on a waiting list for a donor hand. This waiting list is part of a national allocation system for donor organs run by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

The donor selection process for a hand transplant also places additional emphasis on matching skin color, gender, ethnicity and hand size.

Hand Transplant Surgery

The human hand consists of 27 bones, 28 muscles, 3 major nerves, and 2 major arteries, in addition to numerous tendons, veins and soft tissue. Hand transplantation surgery can last up to 10 hours as surgeons work to fixate bones, reattach arteries and veins and repair tendons and nerves.

After Your Hand Transplant

Within 24-48 hours after surgery, it is recommended to start moving the hand to avoid muscle stiffness and other complications. It is also important to watch for signs of rejection, which include blotchy skin or the appearance of a rash anywhere on the transplant. These signs are usually painless, and are easier to identify earlier than those that would result from a solid organ transplant.

Transplant rejection can be avoided with carefully administered medications, as well as intensive physical and occupational therapy sessions.