Man Makes History By Receiving a Double Arm and Shoulder Transplant

“It was not a good morning.” Those are the words of Felix Grétarsson when he recalled the day he lost both of his arms and broke his back and neck in a horrible accident 24 years ago. The events of that fateful day — which saw both his arms set on fire as 11,000 volts and 100 amps surged through them before he plunged to the ground — were just the beginning of the trials that lay ahead for the then 26-year-old. Little did Felix know at the time that a transplant was in his future that would prove decisive in his life. On Jan. 12, 1998, Felix was a young electrician working in Reykjavik, Iceland. He was sent to investigate a fault on one of the power lines in a remote area, and due to a miscommunication with one of his co-workers, Felix grabbed a live line. The only good fortune in that day was that his lifeline had been loosened, which may sound like a bad thing. If, however, it had worked as designed, Felix would have remained in place and been burned to a crisp. Instead, the loosened lifeline allowed him to fall to the ground, disconnecting from the voltage. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma. His prospects weren’t good. Fast-forward to 2007, when Felix approached Dr. Jean Michel Dubernard (pictured above) who was giving a lecture on arm and shoulder transplants at an Icelandic university. The doctor agreed to look into his case. Several years later in 2011, Felix was asked to come to France for further medical testing. The surgery was planned and Felix was placed on the donor list in September 2016. On January 13, 2021, Felix went under for the double-arm and shoulder transplant, a surgery that would take a team of 50 surgeons 15 hours to complete. It was a complete success, and today Felix is moving on with life, happy that he can do something that he wasn’t able to do for so many years — hug his daughter, who is now 24. 
Felix and three-month-old daughter Dilja, shortly before his accident in 1998

Felix and 24-year-old daughter Dilja