The Turkish man who would have been the world's first recipient of a quadruple limb transplant died Monday after doctors had to amputate the limbs because of "metabolic imbalance," the hospital said in a statement.
On Friday, Sevket Cavdar, 27, received two arms and two legs after a 20-hour operation at Hacettepe University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, to replace the limbs he lost in 1998 after he was electrocuted.
On Sunday, the doctors had to remove one leg when Cavdar's heart and vascular system failed to sustain it. On Monday, they had to remove the other three limbs.
A team of 200 doctors tried to keep Cavdar alive for more than 90 hours, according to the Associated Press. The Turkish Red Crescent, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, dispatched hundreds of blood units from around the country after Cavdar's lead surgeon, Dr. Murat Tuncer, called for blood donations to avoid possible complications.
Dr. L. Scott Levin, president of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation, told ABC News that it was likely that Cavdar went into shock after the attached limbs were deprived of adequate blood supply and began releasing metabolites in his body that damaged his circulation.
Even a single limb transplant is extremely taxing for patients, and Levin said the effort to give Cavdar four new limbs was particularly bold.
"In these transplants, there may be a threshold that we cross in terms of how much of a burden we put on a patient when we try to do more than one limb at a time. Perhaps the limit is two extremities and perhaps not more," he said.
Two months ago at a hospital in the southern Turkish city of Antalya, doctors tried and failed to transplant three limbs - two arms and a leg, the Washington Post reported. The leg had to be removed because of tissue incompatibility.