Background: Upper limb transplantation is a life-enhancing rather than lifesaving procedure. Little research has investigated how individuals with upper limb amputations perceive the benefits and risks of this complex procedure. To address this knowledge gap, the authors conducted qualitative research with individuals with upper limb amputations to understand their perspectives. Methods: Twenty-two individuals with upper limb amputations (age range, 24 to 73 years) participated in a focus group (n = 5) or semistructured interview (n = 17) about the benefits and risks of upper limb transplantation. Data were analyzed by means of constant comparative methods and a two-phase analysis process. Results: Participants identified enhanced functional performance and improved appearance as the greatest potential benefits. Over half of participants indicated that function was a more important consideration than appearance. Enhanced function performance was a relative concept strongly influenced by individual expectations, which varied widely. Increased sensation, psychological well-being, and social acceptability were also described as potential benefits. Identified risks included health risks and the demands of transplantation and recovery, decreased functional performance, and uncertainty over outcomes from upper limb transplantation as an experimental procedure. Participants also expressed concerns regarding the psychological impact of negative outcomes and adverse events. Conclusions: Participants had a large variation in their perceived importance of the many risks and benefits of upper limb transplantation. These findings elucidate how potential upper limb transplantation candidates evaluate the benefits and risks of the procedure. The findings can also inform important issues to address and outcomes to assess in the pretransplant and posttransplant settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas