The first hand-transplant program on the West Coast was introduced Monday at UCLA. Since 1999, only nine people in the United States have received hand transplants.

“Over the past decade, the exciting field of hand transplantation has resulted in excellent outcomes for patients, and we are excited to bring this program to UCLA,'' stated Dr. Kodi Azari, surgical director of the new UCLA Hand Transplantation Program.

Azari was one of the lead surgeons on five of those nine hand-transplant operations.

The transplant program at UCLA combines various aspects of medicine including neurology, radiology, psychiatry, anesthesia, and hematology into a multidisciplinary partnership.

The surgery, which lasts from eight to twelve hours, requires surgeons working in coordinated teams.

Azari said the program will confirm that the transplant methods are successful. It will also give doctors the opportunity to study the return of function in transplanted hands.

“We are at the beginning of a new frontier,'' Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil, UCLA executive chair of surgery, stated. “Solid organ transplants are now routinely performed to save patients' lives. Now we'll be performing composite tissue transplants to enhance their quality of life.”

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

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