Leeds, UK (CBS) -- A 51-year-old man said he was looking forward to holding his grandson's hand on Thursday (January 3) after becoming the first UK recipient of a hand transplant.
Mark Cahill, who lost the use of his right hand through gout, underwent the eight-hour operation to have the hand removed and replaced with the donor hand on 27 December 2012.
"Hopefully I will be able to get back to work for a start. That's a major difference. I might be able to cut my food up, button my shirts, fasten a pair of shoelaces but mainly I'll be able to hold my grandson's hand," he said.
Doctors at Leeds General Infirmary in northern England said a new technique was used which allowed very accurate restoration of nerve structures.
"I'm getting slight movement now - my feeling has just started to come back but everything's looking very very good, it's doing well," he added.
Consultant plastic surgeon, Professor Simon Kay, who led the surgical team, said: "I think Mark's got a very strong chance of re-gaining good function. He had a functionless hand before, he had no function in it at all, Over the next six months to a year we expect to see recovery of feeling, recovery of movement, recovery of power. I'd be very disappointed if that didn't happen and I strongly believe it will."
Leeds Teaching Hospital announced in late 2011 that it was looking for potential candidates for arm or hand transplants. Cahill was one of two potential candidates for treatment after a search across the country.
He was picked for the hand transplant surgery because he was the best tissue match.
The Leeds team worked with colleagues in Lyon, France, where hand transplants were pioneered in 1988.