Pioneering surgery changes lives
As the world celebrates the first double hand transplant performed by Philadelphia Hand Surgeon Dr Scott Levin on an 8 year old boy, HTC remembers the pioneering surgeon Dr Martin Singer who performed the first hand reattachment in Africa after a man severed his hand in an industrial accident. The operation was successful, but sadly the patient was furious about the operation as he was no longer entitled to receive a disability grant. The man shook his hand vigorously, inflicting so much damage that the hand had to be amputated. A devastating reality of a man who came from a poor socio-economical background. A stark contrast from the joy and excitement such pioneering surgery has brought to 8 year old Zion in Philadelphia. Zion lost his hands and feet due to an infection and has become the world's youngest patient to receive a double hand transplant.
Dr Singer formed the first Hand Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1966. The Orthopaedic Department refused to accept there was a need for a dedicated Hand Unit or specialist Hand Surgeon insisted that Dr Singer resign from the Orthopaedic Surgery and join the General Surgery department. He was not deterred and proceeded to demonstrate true leadership and vision when he invited Plastic Surgeons to be a part of the team.
Dr Singer was the 12th Hand Surgeon in the world to receive the Pioneer of Hand Surgery Award from the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand in Budapest.
The passion and vision of surgeons such as Singer and Levin makes me feel incredibly proud to be a hand therapist and to be a part of the global hand surgery and therapy community that makes a difference in people's lives.