Monday, December 15, 2014

Quadruple Amputee Receives Arm Transplants // Gets Greatest Gift: Abilty to Hug Partner Again

I saw this article a few weeks back and kept meaning to share it here, but kept forgetting. It tells about a now 40-year-old man named Will Lautzenheiser who lost both of his arms and both of his legs back in 2011 following a horrible bacterial infection. Since his illness, Lautzenheiser transformed from a Boston University film professor to a "sit-down" comic (as opposed to a stand-up comic).

But the gist of this story is that Lautzenheiser just became the recipient of two transplanted arms:
The late donor put those arms to similar use, as described in a message from his family that New England Organ Bank President Richard Luskin read aloud to Lautzenheiser: “Our son gave the best hugs. We pray that you make a wonderful recovery and that your loved ones will be able to enjoy your warm embrace.

Thus far, Lautzenheiser says, his new arms have little sensation, mainly just a bit of feeling in the skin right below where they’re joined to his own body. As for moving them, “If I really focus, I can occasionally move my thumb just a little bit, a few millimeters. It bends. I can pronate and supinate my wrist on my right arm. I have a little bit of wrist motion, a little bit of forearm motion...” 

Wearing splints, Lautzenheiser can now use a spoon, and a stylus for electronics, though he can’t type on a keyboard because his fingers cannot exert pressure. One big advance: He can now use his elbow to get up from bed independently. “This is major for me,” he said.
I cannot imagine losing my arms and my legs. I really just cannot. You would lose pretty much all sense of privacy and independence. It would be close to impossible to do anything from writing a note to eating a snack, from driving to the store to taking a shower. I mean, you have to make do with what life throws at you, but this would be very difficult to adjust to.

These two new arms have to feel like lifesavers to Lautzenheiser.

But this paragraph was the biggest tearjerker moment of the article for me:
It will take months for the new arms and hands to gain sensation and function, but Lautzenheiser, a former film professor at Boston University, says he’s already putting them to good use, hugging his partner, Angel Gonzalez. “To be able to hold my love in my arms again is really the best,” he said.
You really need to check out this article.

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