A man who lost his limbs to an infection received two new arms in a remarkable transplant operation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in October.
Will Lautzenheiser, 40, lost all four limbs to a bacterial infection that nearly killed him in 2011. Lautzenheiser is a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University, and today works as a comic.
A team of 35 clinicians, surgeons, nurses and specialists operated on Lautzenheiser for almost nine hours to replace his two arms with those taken from a donor who died.
Hand/arm transplant surgeries were pioneered at BWH in 2011. To date, BWH has performed 3 double hand/arm transplants.
Lautzenheiser can expect at least a year of extensive physical therapy to regain even some of his motor functions and sensation in his new limbs, BWH spokesperson Elaine St. Peter told the Gazette.
“We expect that he will be able to bend his elbow and use the transplanted arms,” she said.
The unidentified arm donor’s family released the following statement ahead of the surgery: “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.”