Doctors nicknamed him “the Viking”. Because he’s a native of Iceland. But above all because of his determination. As if the conquests of his Nordic ancestors had turned into inner strength. Félix Gretarsson, 48, has just benefited from a double arm transplant, performed on Wednesday, January 13 at the Edouard-Herriot hospital, in Lyon.
The operation lasted nearly fifteen hours. She succeeded. “We know he’s going to get there, because he’s very strong mentally. His life will change. He has years of rehabilitation ahead of him, he has the capacity to face them ”, summarizes Professor Morelon, head of the transplantation, nephrology and clinical immunology department, at the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL), during a press conference given on Friday January 22, in the presence of the medical team behind this world first, revealed by the daily 20 minutes.
“Mr. Gretarsson has years of rehabilitation ahead of him, he has the capacity to face them”, summarizes the Pr Morelon
Electrocuted on January 12, 1998, while working on a high voltage line, Félix Gretarsson lost both arms and underwent fifty-four operations, including a liver transplant. In 2008, he approached Jean-Michel Dubernard at the end of a medical congress. A pioneer in transplant from Lyon, Professor Dubernard successfully completed the first hand transplant in 1998, and the double transplant in 2000.
“I will be the patient of your life”, launches the Icelandic to the Lyon surgeon, retired since, who directs him towards the Lyon hospitals. After the long preparation of a detailed protocol, the development of a financing, and ten dress rehearsals of the operation, it is still necessary to wait five years. “A life in parentheses”, testifies Sylwia, his wife. Until D-day.
Fifty caregivers, including twelve surgeons
“This double transplant is a huge step forward for humanity, the determining element is organ donation”, recalls Professor Lionel Badet, head of department and member of the team. Alerted by an urgent message on their WhatsApp loop, fifty caregivers, including twelve surgeons, converged on January 13 towards the two operating theaters of Edouard-Herriot. One to take the donor’s arms. The other to perform the transplant. Doctors, nurses and technicians come from HCLs and various private establishments (Parc and Saint-Charles clinics, Médipôle, Jean-Mermoz hospitals, North-West, Protestant infirmary).
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