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Man Fitted With Incredible Donor Arms In First Double Transplant

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Man Fitted With Incredible Donor Arms In First Double Transplant

A man who underwent the first full double arm transplant in the world has revealed the operation was a success - and he can now flex his donor biceps.

Felix Gretarsson, 49, was electrocuted while trying to fix a powerline and both his arms were set on fire in 1998.

He had 54 operations while in a three-month-long coma - and doctors had to remove both of his arms in a bid to save his life.

Felix before the accident. Credit: SWNS
Felix before the accident. Credit: SWNS
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Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

He turned to drugs and alcohol abuse to help him cope, and underwent two liver transplants in less than a year before tracking down a world renowned surgeon who he begged to perform the never-before-attempted transplant - moving halfway across the world to be in line.

In January this year, on the 23-year anniversary of his accident, he had a double arm and shoulder transplant in a 15-hour surgery.

Six months on, thanks to hundreds of hours of rehabilitation work, he can move his arms.

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Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Felix, from Kópavogur, Iceland, is fighting hard to be able to hug his children again and his wife and grandkids for the first time.

Speaking about waking up with new arms, he said: "It was like there was two trucks parked on each of my shoulders. Having been through hospitalisation before I kind of knew the first time it feels like the end of the world and that you're going to be a patient for the rest of your life.

"But when you recover you know its just temporary this s*** will pass so I put my heels down and put my head down."

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Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Felix, who now lives in Lyon, France, added: "The feeling in the nerves can be a little painful when they grow. If you poke my arm I can feel the nerves inside even if I can't feel the skin.

"I am moving the elbow in water, my bicep is now working and that's only five months after.

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"I am so hopeful that I am going to be able to move my hands as well which nobody expected - except me."

Before his accident Felix was an electrician, and on 12 January 1998, was sent out to fix a line that carried enough electricity to power 500 homes.

There was confusion about how far he needed to go down the power line to get to the part that needed fixing, and he grabbed the wrong wire. He was electrocuted and fell 32ft to the ground.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS
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Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Worryingly, he couldn't wake up from the coma but doctors said whenever Céline Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On' came on the radio, his heartbeat raised.

Happens to the best of us.

Felix remembered: "This accident happened on a Monday and the Saturday before I saw the movie Titanic in the cinema."

He woke up from an induced coma three months later and despite having no arms he was relieved that he hadn't been entirely paralysed.

Then in 2007, Felix saw an advert on the television for a lecture at the University of Iceland by renowned surgeon Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard, most famous for performing the first successful hand transplant in 1998.

Felix with the staff who cared for him. Credit: SWNS
Felix with the staff who cared for him. Credit: SWNS

Dr Dubernard said there was a possibility of performing the operation, but he would need to move to France so his team to do the appropriate preparations.

Four years later, surgeons accepted his application, and Felix launched a nationwide fundraising campaign in Iceland to help pay for the €200,000 (£170,000/$235,000) operation.

On 11 January this year, he got the call saying a suitable donor had been found but didn't get his hopes up.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

But the next day, the 23-year anniversary of his accident, he went to Hopital Edouard Herriot to have a double arm and shoulder transplant.

In March he was moved to rehabilitation and, after his body rejected the new limbs twice and a painful skin fungus, Felix is making incredible progress.

The grandad-of-two said: "I have achieved something that wasn't supposed to be possible if I wouldn't have pushed it and pushed it."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: World News, Inspirational, Community

Rebecca Shepherd
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