Monday 9 December 2019

First US double-arm transplant will let brave mother Katy hug her three children again

Rachel Alexander in New York

A MOTHER of three who lost her limbs after suffering from a flesh-eating infection is to become the first person in America to have someone else's arms and hands transplanted on to her body.

Texan Katy Hayes (43) caught the infection after the birth of her last child two years ago, and doctors were left with no choice but to amputate her arms and legs above the knees and elbows.

In an interview in the US she described how she told doctors: "I want my life back, I want to hold my last child before she's grown -- and she's already two. If anybody tells me 'no,' I'll just go to the next hospital. 'No' is not an option."

After her initial surgery, doctors were hugely impressed with her fighting spirit when she awoke after being comatose for a month to discover she was now a quad-amputee.

"I have no regrets. I'm glad to be alive," she said.

Ms Hayes also had to undergo a battery of physical exams to assure she's in good health before she's placed on the donor list possibly as early as next month.

While using another person's hands and arms seems like pure science fiction, Ms Hayes pointed out that a farmer had both his arms successfully replaced in Germany four years ago.

Karl Merk lost his arms above the elbow in a combine harvesting accident and received new ones from a teenager who died in a car accident.

Dr WP Andrew Lee, chairman of the plastic and reconstructive surgery department at Johns Hopkins University, said attaching full arms can be much trickier than hand transplants below the elbow. That's because new nerves -- which use the arm's old nerves as conduits or channels -- must grow a longer distance to reach the hand.

Ms Hayes will become the first patient to have two full arm transplants at the same time. Doctors cannot guarantee how much Katy will be able to move or feel with her new arms.

Irish Independent

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