Intergender Dark-Skinned Transplanted Hands Become Lighter and More Feminine

An amputee woman in India who received hands transplant by a darker-skinned male donor reportedly has both hands looking more feminine and light-skinned. Doctors are puzzled by the changes that took place over a few years.

After her bus accident in 2016, 18-year-old Shreya Siddanagowder’s arms were amputated below the elbow, and in 2017, she underwent Asia’s first intergender hand transplant. The surgery took 13 hours to complete and was performed by a team of 20 surgeons and 16 anesthesiologists.

Shreya Siddanagowder’s transplanted hands came from a 21-year-old male who died after suffering a bicycle crash. Throughout the following year and a half, physical therapy enhanced the motor control of her arms and hands, which slowly became thinner than they were at the time of the surgery.

Surprising Changes

However, doctors have spotted another puzzling change: the skin of her arms, which had initially been darker, became very similar to her skin tone, as per The Indian Express. Experts assume that her body generates less melanin than her donor did, which could clarify the color of her new limbs; however, more research is needed to accurately confirm the cause. Dr. Uday Khopkar, chief of dermatology at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, said.

“I am the first female in the world to have male hands,” Siddanagowder said in a video shared on Facebook in June 2019.

Shreya Siddanagowder’s hands after the transplant and now. [Image: The Indian Express]
One explanation for her hands transforming into a more ‘feminine’ shape could be the muscles adjusting to the new host, physiotherapist Ketaki Doke, said. “The nerve begins to send signals — it is called reinnervation — and the muscles function according to body needs. The muscles in her hand may have started adapting to a female body.”

Fewer than 100 people have received a hand transplant globally, as per Johns Hopkins Medicine. Siddanagowder’s doctors are regularly checking the changes in her hands’ skin color and form, and they expect to publish the case online.

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