Consultant plastic surgeon, Professor Simon Kay

Consultant plastic surgeon, Professor Simon Kay

Ms Jackson said: “It is just the little things that you take for granted. Getting your money out of your purse. The little things.”

Consultant plastic surgeon, Professor Simon Kay, who has carried out the astonishing procedure on five patients, said he believes the operations will become more common as more patients recover.

Professor Kay, who has worked at the LGI for 32 years, said: “We had the technology to carry out the procedure thirty years ago but nobody thought the drugs would prevent rejection [of the hand] from the arm.

“We thought it was impossible. We now have what I believe is one of the top three units [to carry out the procedures] in the world.

“I am enormously proud of everyone and I have a privilege to lead the team of 30 people. No transplants are possible without the courage of the patients who donate. If you want to find the real heroes look at them, they are amazing people.”

Sales adviser gets new arm after losing it in car accident

A sales adviser from Manchester also received a new arm and hand in another pioneering surgery after losing his right arm in a road-traffic accident in March 2006.

In early 2016, John-Paul McGrail, 36, was at work when a customer who he had never met suggested he contact Leeds General Infirmary’s hand-transplant team.

He too is excited to return to “normality” and be able to regain their independence.

Mr McGrail said: “Until I was in hospital and ready for the operation it hadn’t really dawned on me what was happening. I have got my confidence back and I am excited.”

The 36-year-old lost his hand as a result of a car accident and after a two-year wait and two chances for surgery which fell through, Mr McGrail got the call that a limb was available and was rushed to the unit for the operation.

Two weeks later, John-Paul has left the unit and returned home.

He added: “I haven’t told very many people about the surgery. After I lost my arm people would sometimes stare.

“I have got my confidence back and I am excited.”

Speaking of his chance encounter with the man who told him about the surgery, Mr McGrail added: “I was working in the phone shop one day when a guy came up to me and said ‘I hope you don’t mind me asking what happened to your arm’.

“I told him and he told me about the transplant team at the LGI. I had no idea it was possible, I couldn’t believe it.”

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