March 29, 2024
Hand Transplantation

From Fists Closed to Dreams Run: Inspiring Stories of Hand Transplant Recipients

Dr. Nilesh Satbhai here, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Gleneagles Hospitals, Mumbai. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of helping patients regain function and independence after life-altering events. One of the most rewarding areas of my practice is hand transplantation.

This surgery is more than just restoring physical form; it’s about offering new possibilities to those who have lost their hands due to accidents or illnesses. Imagine losing your hands in a tragic accident. The most basic tasks – holding a cup, dressing yourself, or even hugging a loved one – become insurmountable challenges. Hand transplants allow people to reclaim these abilities, bringing immense joy and a renewed sense of self-worth.

The Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) Dream Run provides a powerful platform to showcase these transformations. Gleneagles Hospital (formerly known as Gleneagles Hospitals) has been a proud participant for many years, and our team is often joined by patients who have received life-changing hand transplants. Their stories are a testament to the power of modern medicine and, most importantly, the lifesaving gift of organ donation.

Dream Run at the Tata Mumbai Marathon

Let me introduce you to some of the incredible individuals who inspire me every day:

Monika More (Mumbai):

In January 2014, a tragic train accident shattered 17-year-old Monika’s world. A gap trap accident stole both her hands, leaving her dependent on others for basic tasks for the next six years. But Monika never gave up hope.

“I always wanted to become independent,” Monika says. “There were times when I would avoid attending functions or weddings because I couldn’t apply mehndi on my hands. But I had a dream – to be able to do these things myself again.”

Her unwavering determination paid off in August 2020. After several missed opportunities due to donor family hesitation, a perfect match was finally found in Chennai. A young man’s tragic brain death became an opportunity for a life-changing gift. His family generously agreed to donate his hands, and with the marvels of modern medicine, Gleneagles Hospitals performed Western India’s first successful bilateral hand transplant surgery on Monika.

The surgery marked a new beginning for Monika. “I became emotional after the transplant,” she recalled. “Finally, after my hands get functional, I will be able to apply mehndi, paint, and do activities such as eating, bathing, combing hair, and cooking on my own. I always wanted to become independent and I am happy that I will finally be able to do so.”

Today, Monika is a living testament to the power of organ donation and medical advancements. She actively participates in the TMM Dream Run, not just for herself, but to inspire others and raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Monika More at TMM Dream Run 2023

Monika More at TMM Dream Run 2023

Witnessing her determination and newfound independence fills us with immense pride. She has participated in the Dream Run in both 2023 and 2024, showcasing her unwavering spirit and commitment to the cause.

Prathamesh Tawde (Mumbai):

Fresh out of college and starting his career with a temporary job, Prathamesh’s world was upended by a workplace accident. The accident resulted in a devastating injury - amputation of his left hand at the mid-forearm level and partial amputation of his right hand, with the loss of his index, middle, and ring fingers.

Facing a future filled with limitations, Prathamesh refused to give up. A chance encounter with a social media video about hand transplants sparked a new hope. He actively sought more information, leaving a comment on the video that led to a life-changing connection with a hospital.

Prathamesh’s determination and his unique case – requiring a partial hand transplant – presented a complex surgical challenge. In February 2022, he underwent a groundbreaking surgery at Gleneagles Hospitals. The surgery, Asia’s first partial hand transplant, involved transplanting a hand and partially reconstructing his existing right hand.

The surgery was very challenging. Due to the nature of the injury, we transplanted only the index, middle, and ring fingers to Prathamesh’s right hand, meticulously preserving his original thumb and little finger. — Dr. Nilesh Satbhai

The successful surgery marked a new beginning for Prathamesh. He regained significant functionality in his hands, allowing him to pursue his passions once again.

Prathamesh Tawde at Tata Mumbai Marathon Dream Run 2023

Prathamesh Tawde at Tata Mumbai Marathon Dream Run 2023

In 2023, he participated in the TMM Dream Run, a testament to his resilience and a symbol of hope for others facing similar challenges.

Prema Ram (Near Ajmer, Rajasthan):

Prema Ram’s story is a testament to the human spirit’s remarkable ability to overcome adversity. Fifteen years ago, a high-voltage electric shock stole his ability to perform even the most basic tasks. The accident resulted in the loss of both arms at the shoulder level, leaving Prema reliant on others for daily activities. But Prema refused to let his disability define him.

“I was devastated after I lost both my hands,” Prema recalls. “Dealing with amputation was depressing. In the beginning, it was extremely challenging, and I struggled every day. I had to rely on my brothers and family members for everything.”

Despite his limitations, Prema never gave up hope. He developed innovative techniques to perform daily tasks, even learning to write by holding a pen with his legs. His unwavering determination and a thirst for normalcy fueled his desire for a solution.

“I always believed that I could get some solution for this problem,” Prema says. “I wanted to do everything just like any normal person.”

His belief in a brighter future led him to Gleneagles Hospitals (formerly Gleneagles Hospitals) in Mumbai. In February 2023, history was made as Prema underwent Asia’s first bilateral total arm transplant surgery. The complex surgery offered Prema a chance to regain his independence.

“I thank my family members, doctors, and the entire team at Gleneagles Hospital Mumbai for giving me new hands,” Prema expresses his gratitude. “I believe nothing is impossible in this world.”

Prema Ram's participation in the 2024 TMM Dream Run

Prema Ram's participation in the 2024 TMM Dream Run

Prema’s participation in the 2024 TMM Dream Run signifies the incredible possibilities of organ donation and advancements in surgical techniques. Witnessing his determination and newfound abilities serves as a powerful inspiration to others facing similar challenges. Prema’s story is a message of hope, perseverance, and the life-changing impact of organ donation.

The Importance of Organ Donation

Did you know that a single donor has the potential to save and improve the lives of up to eight recipients and enhance the lives of over 75 more through tissue donation?

Organ donation is a selfless act of generosity that can save countless lives. By donating organs, individuals are providing an invaluable service to those in need and helping to extend life expectancy for many others. It can provide a second chance at life to somebody whose family member or loved one might be suffering from a critical ailment.

After the TMM 2023, Dr. Vivek Talaulikar, CEO, Gleneagles Hospitals said, “We take pride in the fact that our hand transplant recipients Monika More and Prathmesh Tawde along with doctors and other hospital staff are taking action to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. Monika and Prathmesh’s determination to participate in the Dream Run to increase awareness serves as a testament to life changing effects of organ transplants and importance of organ donation. This run is another way of increasing awareness and our hospital’s commitment to providing exemplary care for its patients.”

A single donor has the potential to save and improve the lives of multiple recipients.

Myth vs. Fact: Organ Donation

Many people have questions and uncertainties surrounding organ donation. Here’s a breakdown of some common myths:

  1. Myth: Organ donation disfigures the body.

    Fact: Organ donation is a respectful surgical procedure. The utmost care is taken to ensure the donor’s body is treated with dignity throughout the process.

  2. Myth: I’m too old/young/unhealthy to be an organ donor.

    Fact: Age and medical history are carefully evaluated to ensure suitability for donation. Many people of all ages and backgrounds can be organ donors.

  3. Myth: My family will have to pay for the donation process.

    Fact: The costs associated with organ donation are covered by the recipient hospital. Your family will not incur any financial burden.

Taking Action: Be a Part of Something Bigger

By registering as an organ donor, you can make a life-altering choice. Visit the Government of India Organ Donation website: to learn more and take the pledge.

Take the Pledge

A Message of Hope and Empowerment:

The stories of Monika, Prathamesh, and Prema are powerful testaments to the power of second chances. Organ donation allows individuals to regain their dreams and live a fulfilling life. Witnessing my patients participate in the Dream Run fills me with immense pride. Their journeys serve as a powerful reminder of the life-saving potential of organ donation.

Let’s spread awareness and empower others to give the gift of life. Imagine the possibilities!

Dr. Nilesh Satbhai
Dr. Nilesh Satbhai

About the author

Dr. Nilesh Satbhai is a highly experienced and skillful plastic surgeon who has dedicated his career to helping patients feel at ease with their bodies. He completed his Plastic Surgery training at the prestigious Seth G. S. Medical College and K.E.M Hospital in Mumbai, after which he went on to earn his fellowship in various subfields of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Nilesh is a caring professional who takes the time to get to know his patients and understand their individual needs and goals. He is committed to providing the highest quality care possible and strives to make every patient feel comfortable and confident in their decision to undergo treatment. If you are considering plastic or reconstructive surgery, Dr. Nilesh Satbhai is a trusted surgeon who can provide you with the results you desire.

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