After almost 11 hours of surgery involving four teams of doctors, Zion Harvey had earned his place in medical history.
The 8-year-old had become the first child in the world to receive two new hands in a procedure that seemed to herald a revolution in transplant medicine.
Two years on, the sports-mad boy from Baltimore, Maryland, is enjoying the freedom and independence his new hands have given him.
In the first medical journal report of Zion’s pioneering treatment, published on Wednesday, the experts involved declare the operation a success and say other children could benefit from the knowledge gained.
Zion had to rely on others after he had his hands and feet amputated aged two when he contracted sepsis. For six years he used a combination of his residual limbs and specialist equipment to dress, wash himself and eat – until the double transplant changed his life.
At 18 months [after the transplant], the child had exceeded his previous adaptive abilities. As of 18 months after transplantation surgery he is able to write and feed, toilet and dress himself more independently and efficiently than he could do before transplantation.
Organ transplantation is risky in that a recipient’s body may reject the new body part, while the drug regime involved carries a series of health risks. Two years on from the surgery he had in July 2015, Zion, now 10, is coping well with both.