Grandad hugs grandkids for first time after world's first double arm transplant

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read

A grandad who had both his arms amputated after being electrocuted can now hug his grandchildren for the first time, having undergone the world's first double arm transplant.

Felix Gretarsson, 49, lost both arms in 1998 after an accident while trying to fix a powerline, and after decades without them, convinced a surgeon to perform a double arm and shoulder transplant in January 2021.

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

Felix tracked down a world-renowned surgeon and begged him to perform a never-before-attempted transplant - moving halfway across the world to undergo the 15-hour operation.

(SWNS)
Felix Gretarsson, 49, lost both arms in 1998 after an accident at work. (SWNS)

Now a grandad-of-two, he has shocked surgeons with his incredible progress, and is now able to brush his teeth, throw balls for his dog and hug his kids with his new arms.

A video even shows the moment Felix got to hug his daughter for the first time since she was a three-month-old baby, and her children too.

He said: “After watching them as little babies crying and being unable to hold them it was indescribable.

“Certain little things like holding my wife and my kids, but also the perception of my hands.

“Just this morning we took our dogs for a walk and I was putting my hand out the window and feeling the wind on my hand, it was a very weird moment.

(SWNS)
(SWNS)

"Being able to scratch without rubbing yourself on some furniture - you don’t realise when you lose your hands how often a day you need to touch your nose or your eyes or scratch your head, and now I'm just constantly doing it.”

He demonstrates his new skills in a series of videos taken over the past three weeks, including cleaning his patio with a pressure hose.

“It’s my 50th birthday next week so I’ve been going berserk trying to clean the residence for the party in the garden!” he said.

“At some point you just feel you are ready to do it, the movement starts to come but there is no strength at the beginning, just a little fraction of nerves in the muscle so I can contract the muscles to a degree.”

(SWNS)
(SWNS)

While he could use his feet to drive the car prior to the operation, he used a steering wheel with his hands for the first time.

He said: “I am just taking my foot off when I'm driving very slowly when there is no danger and I am managing to hold onto the steering wheel and swing the car back and forth over a little distance.

“The first time I let go of the floor steering wheel on the floor, that was awesome.”

To build up the muscles in his new arms, Felix, from Kópavogur, Iceland, has now started to go to the gym to exercise.

He said: I'm not putting any serious weight on, I'm trying to put on muscles but at the same time growing nerves

(SWNS)
(SWNS)

“It’s super challenging and frustrating as hell constantly trying to do something and the muscles don’t move, but the reward is incredible when all of a sudden these movements start to manifest.”

Felix has started to notice temperature in his arms and hands, and the sensation gets clearer for him every day.

“The arms down to the wrists feel well attached and I can feel them, and I can feel every part of the hand but it is still not perfect.

“The hands have a much more complicated nervous system than the arms, you touch something with your elbow or tip of finger and it's a completely different sensation."

Felix lives in Lyon, France, now has very strong feelings in both his arms and is making amazing progress every day.

(SWNS)
(SWNS)

Doctors told Felix that nerves grow on average a millimetre every day, so estimate they'll reach his elbow in under a year, and his hands in about two.

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.

"It took a long time, but just because I was certain it would happen I didn't know who was going to do it or how, I didn't know where the money would come from.

"But when the goal is clear you always find a way.

"Sometimes the bad things that happen to us are the reason the good things can happen to us further down the line.

"If I hadn't lost my arms I wouldn't be living in France with my wife today.

"So many good things you can take from this - this is what has kept me going.

"There's always a silver lining to everything."

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