London: Spanish surgeons have performed "the world's first double-leg transplant" on a man whose legs were amputated above the knee after a mishap, a breakthrough they claim could offer hope to millions of amputees globally.

A team, led by Pedro Cavadas, carried out the operation through the night on the man, who had faced life in a wheelchair because prosthetic limbs were unsuitable, said the health authority for the eastern region of Valencia.

"It is the first time in the world that such a transplant has been carried out," according to a statement by the health authority, after the surgery at the La Fe hospital in Valencia.

Neither donors nor the patient were identified but the health authority promised to give further details later, depending on his condition, according to report.

Spain's Health Ministry reportedly authorised the transplant in last November.

The doctor in-charge of the operation, Cavadas, said he would need at least 48 hours before being able to provide more information.

It is reported that Spanish Health Minister Leire Pajin on Monday telephoned Cavadas to congratulate him on the "success" of the latest operation.

The surgery "brings hope to other patients who have suffered amputations", the Minister said. She also praised the "generosity" of the donor's family who had helped "make our
country an example of solidarity in the world".

The Director of the National Transplant Organisation, Rafael Matesanz, confirmed the operation was a world first.

"The indications for this kind of surgery are very rare; it is when the amputation is so high that there is really no space to fit a prosthesis and the patient is condemned to remain in a wheelchair," Matesanz said.

The Spanish transplant chief said the search for a donor was "very complicated" because the person had to fulfill a series of requirements including being of the right age and
blood type, and not being too far from the operating hospital.

(Agencies)