Icelandic man becomes first in world to receive double arm and shoulder transplant

Icelander Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson became the first patient in the world to receive a double-arm-and-shoulder transplant, undergoing the groundbreaking surgery in Lyon, France.

The operation, which took place in mid-January, lasted a whopping 14-hours and was comprised of four surgical teams to minimize the transition time between the donor and Grétarsson, stated The Guardian.

According to doctors, the outlook for the right arm to become functional was higher than that of the left due to the shoulder on the left-side needing a complete rebuild. It was also noted that Grétarsson would need to go into at least three years of rehabilitation for him to build up the strength in his arms and for the nerves to grow.

Almost exactly 23 years ago, Grétarsson, an electrician at the time, was assigned to work on a high-voltage power line when an 11,000-volt surge stuck him. The result of the accident left him in a three-month coma with multiple fractures and internal injuries, with surgeons eventually needing to amputate Grétarsson’s arms and shoulders completely.

Since 2013, Grétarsson has been living in Lyon when he received the news he could receive a transplant. The Icelander had been in contact with Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard, who became the first doctor to perform a successful hand transplant on a patient in 1998. Grétarsson had been on the waiting list for surgery for five years.

Photo: Eyþór Árnason / Fréttablaðið