'Grey's Anatomy' Arm Transplant: Can They Do That?

Grey's Anatomy arm transplantGrey's Anatomy is the kind of show I usually watch with two thoughts running through my head:

One: This is just a TV show. This is just for fun. This is 100 percent acceptable because I need some escape from the grind of daily life in order to not rip my hair out.

Two: Whoa, that is awesome. Can they really do that?


The double arm transplant that took up the bulk of Thursday night's episode of Grey's blew number one out of the water. I was supposed to be caught up in the drama (Arizona's moving to Africa? Avery's flipped his lid? Little Grey is too dumb to use a key card?), but they finally suspended my "oooh la, this is my medical soap night" mentality.

All I could think about was how life changing two new arms would be for a guy who'd lost his limbs.


It turns out not only can they do this, but doctors have replaced two arms on the same person. The first time was in Germany in 2008, where a man who lost both limbs in a farming accident (does anything sound more painful than a threshing machine?) had them replaced.

The 54-year-old got the appendages of a 19-year-old declared brain dead, and doctors Edgar Biemer and Christoph Hoehnke earned worldwide recognition for a medical miracle.

Even before that, surgeons had managed to do face transplants and hand transplants. And in just two years since the arm transplant that inspired the Grey's episode, they've moved on to bigger things.

This year doctors in New York transplanted five (count 'em, five) organs into Kristin Molini to save her life from intestinal dysmotility, a rare medical condition. And since we're talking double arms, we can't forget the double hand transplants that have been happening recently. Just last month Richard Edwards received the third double hand surgery in the nation, and he's already wiggling his fingers.

That's the kind of stuff I'd like to hear about more often. Especially in the midst of the depressing election season.

Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes has been criticized in the past for ripping her storylines from the headlines. But sometimes her "wait, can that happen" approach is the only way we'll hear about these medical miracles.

If they're happening at Seattle Grace/Mercy West, you can bet they're happening somewhere else.


Image via ABC

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