Getting to the last few steps of the procedure, surgeons (including Dr. Steven McCabe, second from the left) attach the muscles and plan how to suture the skin. (Photo: UHN)​

Dr. Steven McCabe was part of the surgical team that performed the world’s first hand transplant in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fast forward 17 years and Dr. McCabe has made the possibility of hand transplants in Canada a reality, leading a multi-disciplinary team of experts to complete the country’s first transplant of the upper limb.

The team at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) successfully attached the hand and forearm from a donor to a patient who had lost her arm below the elbow in an accident several years ago.

“We are very proud to have successfully performed this forearm and hand transplant procedure,” said Dr. McCabe, Director of TWH’s Hand and Upper Extremity Transplant Program.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment involving many people across several programs, and we are excited to make this treatment possible and available for patients who would benefit from it.”

The procedure lasted approximately 14 hours and involved 18 surgeons of a variety of different surgical disciplines from a number of hospitals.


To protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient, the donor and their families, the hospital will not be releasing the date of the surgery or any possible identifying details.

“It’s another milestone for our program,” says Dr. Atul Humar, Director of UHN’s Multi-Organ Transplant Program. “With this Canadian first, we are entering another era in transplantation.

“This kind of effort requires not only the expertise of a diverse surgical, medical, and rehabilitation team at UHN, but also a life-changing gift by a tissue and organ donor and his or her family.”

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High School Outreach Initiative (HSOI)

Dear Colleagues:

Happy New Year!  Hope everyone had some quality time with loved ones during the holiday break.  As we embark on a new year, I thought it would be opportune to provide a brief update about an important outreach initiative on behalf of the Toronto Transplant Institute, the High School Outreach Initiative (HSOI).

Many of you may already know that the High School Outreach Initiative (HSOI) started 5 years ago as a unique partnership with Trillium-Gift-of-Life Network (TGLN) and  Health Care Professionals (HCP’s) from the Toronto Transplant Institute (Sick Kids, UHN, St. Mike’s) towards an overall objective of  providing education and awareness of transplantation and organ donation to youth in Toronto high schools. The overarching goal is to increase donor registration in the Greater Toronto Area.  Since the initiative began, 265 presentations have been provided to more than 17,000 GTA high school students.

I am writing now to ensure that you all knew that the HSOI is still going strong – and to let you know how you can support this initiative!

First off –  this year we welcome a new coordinator from the Toronto Transplant Institute – Anna Cocco – who will be working with us to quarterback all invitations and speaking opportunities at High Schools in the GTA.  We know that with Anna’s energy and proximity to us all within the Transplant programs, the opportunities to capitalize on all your expertise will be enhanced.

1) How you can support this initiative – Volunteer to be a HSOI Speaker in 2016!

HCP’s participate as Guest Speakers in classroom presentations and assemblies at secondary schools in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) or Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). In previous years TGLN attended the presentations, starting this year they will not be attending presentations, the HCP presenters will now provide information on donation in a newly designed presentation. An organ recipient or donor family will also attend to take part in the presentation, sharing their story, which is an integral aspect of the presentation.

Anyone interested in participating as an HCP presenter will receive training on the 25 minute presentation. Your commitment may be 1-2 presentations over a year, which may require ½ day of your time.

If you are interested in participating, please advise Anna Cocco for tracking –

2) Promote the Initiative to Teachers you know:

We continue to target all Toronto public and Catholic high schools and in doing so we hope to utilize as many Health Care Professional (HCP) volunteers as possible.   Everyone’s help is appreciated in trying to bring the program to new schools in the GTA.  Please find attached a healthcare professional letter that we encourage you to share with any teacher and school contacts you have.

Please contact me if you have any questions related to this important initiative.

Thank you,

Vicky Ng

Chair, HSOI Steering Committee