LAREDO - (WRAL) In May, 54-year-old Rene Chavez, of Laredo, Texas, received a new left hand during a complex, 12-hour procedure performed by a team of 17 surgeons led by Dr. Linda Cendales, associate professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and director of Duke's hand transplant program.
Three months after his surgery, he is continuing to show signs of progress, but the road to recovery has not been easy.
"The therapy after a procedure like this is very intense," said Cendales.
Occupational therapy, which helps to increase hand and finger coordination and strength, has been an everyday job for Chavez.
Cendales said Chavez is the first of five patients who will enroll in the study.
"He has made phenomenal progress in the short three months that he has been here," said Duke Physical Occupational Therapist Jody Moore.
Chavez said he is slowly starting to figure out his new hand.
"Little by little. Slowly, but I am discovering every day new things that I can do with my hand," he said.
(© 2016 KBMT)