A Spanish woman has been given the world's first double hand transplant, doctors have disclosed.

The patient, known only as Alba, was said to be recovering well after the 10-hour, pioneering operation in which surgeons used microscopic technology to attach an anonymous donor's hands to her arms. The 47-year-old, whose hands were amputated after a laboratory explosion 20 years ago, was pleased with the results. "They look beautiful," she said.

The go-ahead for the operation was given by Spain's National Organisation for Transplants. After finding a donor, understood to be a woman declared brain dead after an accident, the operation was scheduled for 30 November. The limbs had been removed from above the elbow, chilled and transported to Hospital La Fe in Valencia in less than five hours. Surgeons then joined the bones using metal plates and screws before connecting the nerves, arteries and veins.

The lead surgeon, Pedro Cavadas, said he hoped the surgery would enable Alma, from Castellon, to gain feeling and even limited movement within six weeks.