The man who became the first patient in the world to have received the complete transplant of both arms said that the he was overwhelmed to wake up after surgery and discover that he had arms against after six years of being armless.
Karl Merk, 54, a farmer from Germany, lost his arms six years ago as a result of an accident. The man said that he originally could not believe that the surgery could be successful.
"It was really overwhelming when I saw that I had arms again," he said. "These are my arms, and I'm not giving them away again," he told reporters at the Munich University Clinic where he is staying after the 15-hour operation.
The man is currently recovering from the operation. He already can use his new arms to open doors and turning lights on and off. He says that he is eager to start eating and dressing without anyone else’s help. Merk also added that he was hoping to ride a motorcycle someday.
"All in all, our wildest expectations have pretty much been fulfilled," said Christoph Hoehnke, one of the lead doctors.
A total of 40 surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and other support staff carried out the 15-hour operation on July 25-26 to graft the donor's arms on to the body of Merk, who lost his own just below the shoulder in a combine harvester accident.
Doctors said there were good indications of nerve growth in the arms but it could take up to two years before he relearns how to use his hands.
Merk appeared at the news conference Wednesday with lower arms bandaged and supported with a series of straps attached to shoulder pads.
Merk said he was looking forward to going home after four to six more weeks of an intensive program of physiotherapy, electric stimulation and psychological counseling.
There is also still a risk that Merk's immune system will react, though doctors said so far there was no sign of them being rejected.