My arms are 12 years old, says first double-arm transplant recipient
Turkey’s first double-arm transplant recipient has made a call to all the citizens of the country to support organ transplantation, implying the surgery he had in 2010 as a “rebirth.”
“I am 39, but my arms are 12-years old,” Cihan Topal, the former patient who had his name written in the history of medicine, told the Demirören News Agency on Jan. 17.
Living a silent life in a village in the western province of Aydın’s Efeler district, Topal is thankful to all those involved in the surgery that took him back to normal life.
“I pick olives from the trees and carry them. I hold my children’s hands and take them to school. If I can do these today, it is all because of that surgery,” he noted.
“It has been 12 years since I had an arm transplant. What I can do now was a dream for me.”
Topal, a father of two today, lost both of his arms in an occupational accident in 2008. His life changed when he met Ömer Özkan, a surgeon from the Akdeniz University in the southern province of Antalya, who was preparing for the country’s first double-arm transplant.
On Sept. 25, 2010, Özkan transplanted the arms of a man who died in a traffic accident to Topal. After five years of massive physical therapy, Topal returned to his daily life in Aydın with his wife, Fatma.
The couple named one of their children “Ömer Özkan” after the surgeon as a “loyalty debt.”
“Everyone should donate their organs so that all our patients waiting for a transplant will regain their health as soon as I did,” Topal said in an interview he gave on a hill full of olive trees.
“I collect harvest myself using a whisk. If I had no arms, I had to hire someone to do it for me. I would pay daily wages,” Topal said. “The more my arms work each day, the more they get stronger.”
The 50-year-old doctor who changed Topal’s life is also known for succeeding the “first uterus transplant in the world from a deceased woman” and the “first full face transplant in Turkey.”