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German Doctors Perform World's First Double-Arm Transplant

German doctors said Friday they had succeeded in performing the world's first transplant of two full arms on a farmer whose own limbs had been severed just below the shoulder in an accident six years ago.

Doctors during surgery

40 doctors operated for 15 hours to perform the world's first transplant of two full arms

The male patient, 54, was "doing well under the circumstances" after the 15-hour operation on July 25-26, the clinic at the Technical University in the southern city of Munich said.

"The man required round-the-clock assistance -- a condition he wanted to change as quickly as possible," the hospital said in a statement.

The head of the transplant team, Christoph Hoehnke, told reporters he was deeply moved as the man's wife went to his bedside after the operation and instinctively reached for his hands.

"They look just like they used to," she said, according to Hoehnke.

It may, however, take up to two years for the man to regain "feeling in his fingertips," the hospital spokeswoman said.

Complex procedure

40 medics took part in the complicated surgical procedure at the university's Rechts der Isar Clinic. The facility has a decades-old unit for microsurgery and replantation surgery with a speciality in interdisciplinary operations it said was essential for a procedure of this kind.

Professor Hans-Guenther Machens had prepared the transplant since he became the clinic's director in December.

The hospital said its main concern was how to suppress the man's immune system so it would not reject the new limbs.

Another key challenge was finding a donor who matched the patient's sex, age, skin colour, size and blood type.

In 2005, French doctors performed the world's first partial face transplant on a 38-year old woman, who had her nose, cheeks, mouth, lips and chin replaced by donor tissue after they were torn off by her dog.

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