‘I’m privileged’: meet the man who got new arms and shoulders

When electrician Felix Gretarsson was sent out to fix an overhead power cable in his native Iceland, it was a bitterly cold morning in 1998. It must have been a routine job. Only there was a miscommunication with his colleagues about which line he was expected to be dealing with. At the top of a pylon, Gretarsson got the live wire by error.

” I just keep in mind lying there awaiting the ambulance and sensation pain in my stubborn belly since my body had locked out everything else,” Gretarsson tells Positive News. “I was put to sleep when I got to the healthcare facility, and woke up 3 months later on with no arms.”.

The 11,000-volt rise tossed him to the frozen tundra below, a 10-metre fall that broke his neck and back in 3 places. To make matters worse, his arms were on fire. — and explaining this as lucky is a testimony to his dreadful luck that day– Gretarsson landed near a river. Quick-thinking colleagues hurried over to its banks, filled their helmets with freezing water and utilized it to snuff out the flames..

A male who had both of his arms and shoulders amputated 23 years back has the ability to wave once again, thanks to advances in medical science

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Felix Gretarsson visualized after the 14-hour treatment. Image: Felix Gretarsson.

The procedure opened Gretarssons mind to the possibilities provided by transplants. With eager eyes, he followed news of the worlds first hand transplant in 1999, finished at Edouard Herriot health center in Lyon, France..

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His spouse, Sylwia, described the transplant as her hubbys “most significant dream”. However, at a press conference she informed reporters that she didnt think the treatment was needed, as he “wasnt missing anything” to her

Gretarsson tracked Dubernard down at his hotel and the doctor concurred to examine his case. News of the worlds very first double arm transplant in Germany a year later on offered Gretarsson more trigger for optimism. He relocated to Lyon to be nearer the doctors on whom he had actually pinned his hopes.

Sadly, the drinking put his liver, already tired from the mishap, under additional pressure, to the point that Gretarsson required a liver transplant. It stopped working, so he had another one two months later..

“I feel nerves down to the elbow in both arms,” states Gretarsson. I have a Danish liver, French arms– Im a modern-day Frankenstein, jokes Gretarsson. Image: Felix Gretarsson.

Gretarsson posts regular updates on Instagram, under the manage @felix_gretarsson. In one post, he was able to wave his right arm, albeit utilizing primarily his shoulder for movement.

After satisfying Sylwia, Gretarsson stopped “waiting for the phone to ring” and got on with his life. Just the phone did ultimately ring: in January this year, doctors contacted us to say an appropriate donor had actually been found and that they desired to go ahead with the procedure. Therefore Gretarsson ended up being the recipient of the worlds first double arm and shoulder transplant..

In spite of whatever he has actually been through and the concerns that stay about what motion he will recuperate, Gretarsson discovers humour and positivity in his scenario. “I have a Danish liver, French arms– Im a modern-day Frankenstein,” he jokes, adding: “No-one else has actually ever lost their shoulders and arms, and got them back. I consider myself to be very, extremely fortunate.”.

It is difficult to fathom how somebody might face such injury. How did he do it? Therapy? “My treatment was shutting it out with drugs and alcohol and general destruction for the next couple of years,” he admits. “I got to a place where they stated: you are either going to be dead or you do something.” Alcoholics Anonymous assisted him “turn things around”..

Surgeons hailed it a success, however with three years of rehabilitation ahead of him, it remains to be seen how much movement Gretarsson has the ability to recuperate. “If he can recuperate the possibility to actively flex his elbow, that would be a life-changer,” states lead cosmetic surgeon Aram Gazarian.

By possibility, the doctor who performed the procedure, Prof Jean-Michel Dubernard, visited Iceland in 2007 to lead a lecture about transplants. By then, his group had also conducted the worlds very first face transplant..

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Cosmetic surgeons at first amputated Gretarssons arms simply above the elbows, infections forced them to keep taking more of what was left, stopping at the shoulders. “My medical professional said that in those first years, I had 54 operations.”.

In Lyon, Gretarsson joined a Meetup group to review the global language of medication: English. It was in those classes that he satisfied a yoga teacher from Poland called Sylwia, who he fell for and wed. “We have two doggies and a really nice life here now,” he says. “I came for arms, however now I have so much more.”.

I pertained to France for arms, today I have so much more.

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2 other current medical breakthroughs.

The development by the company Nanomedic is being trialled by physicians in Europe and Israel, where it is showing encouraging early outcomes.

Image: Diana PolekhinaMain image: Felix Gretarsson.

A medical weapon that draws out a translucent, breathable, stick-on dressing might supply more effective treatment for burns. The Spincare system lessens the requirement for routine dressings (visualized), which restrict movement and can be very unpleasant to alter.

Dressing weapon provides new way to treat burns.

Image: Jordan Whitfield.

A once-blind guy can see again, after ending up being the worlds first recipient of an artificial cornea. Jamal Furani, 78, lost his sight to corneal illness a decade back.

But in January he went through a transplant in his native Israel and can now read numbers on a chart. The success of the procedure raises expect the estimated 10 million people coping with cornea loss of sight worldwide.

Cosmetic surgeons initially amputated Gretarssons arms simply above the elbows, infections required them to keep taking more of what was left, stopping at the shoulders. News of the worlds first double arm transplant in Germany a year later offered Gretarsson more trigger for optimism. After satisfying Sylwia, Gretarsson stopped “waiting for the phone to ring” and got on with his life. “I feel nerves down to the elbow in both arms,” says Gretarsson. I have a Danish liver, French arms– Im a modern-day Frankenstein, jokes Gretarsson.

Cornea transplant brings back guys sight.

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