Katy Hayes, an Irish American from Texas who lost all four limbs to flesh-eating bacteria, is set to undergo a double arm transplant at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. This is the first time an above-the-elbow transplant has been attempted.
Speaking at a press conference in Boston, Hayes (44), from Kingwood, Texas, said “I have the determination to make these arms my own.
“I want my life back. I want to hold my children. I want to hug my husband.”
The former massage therapist is also looking forward to wearing her wedding ring again.
In February 2010, having given birth to her third child, Hayes contracted a life-threatening Group A Streptococcal infection. She lost her large intestine, uterus, and all of her limbs.
This double arm transplant could give Hayes the ability to flex and extend her elbows to lift herself in and out of her wheelchair.
Hayes’ brother-in-law Tom Phelps told the Boston Herald, “She knew from day one she wanted arm transplants, not just prosthetics.
“I’m just shocked and amazed that science has come this far.
“Katy is just a wonderful and fabulous person, and the tragedy of her getting the strep and how it ravaged her body was just a nightmare, but she’s so strong, she just pulled through.
“I’ll never forget when she woke up from the coma…She was like, ‘OK, let’s get to work,’ and we were all saying, ‘No, you need some down time.’”
Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at the Brigham, told Reuters the level of function she will acquire is uncertain.
Currently Hayes is undergoing psychological and physical screening to determine her eligibility for the surgery.
The first double arm transplant of this kind was performed in Germany in 2008 on a farmer who lost his limbs in a farming accident. In recent years Brigham and Women's has performed two double hand transplants.
The Boston hospital is working on finding a donor and as yet the operation has not been scheduled.
Here’s the Boston Herald’s video on Hayes’ story:
Here’s a clip from “The Doctors” TV show explaining the hand transplant operation: