Texas woman prepares to undergo first double-arm transplant in U.S.

Patient lost all four limbs to a flesh-eating bacterial infection in 2010

September 14, 2012

Brigham and Women's Hospital on Wednesday announced it will perform the United States' first double-arm transplant on a 44-year-old woman who lost all her limbs to a flesh-eating bacterial infection in 2010.

Katy Hayes—a former massage therapist from Kingwood, Texas—developed Group A Streptococcal infection after giving birth to her third child. To save her life, physicians amputated both her arms above the elbows and both legs at her knees. They also removed her uterus and her large intestines.

Hayes was approved for the grueling surgery after undergoing extensive psychological and physical screening.

If successful, the surgery could allow Hayes to move her elbows and lift herself out of her wheelchair. However, Bohdan Pomahac, Brigham's director of plastic surgery transplantation, says it is unclear whether she will regain hand function.

More than 48 patients in the world have received hand and arm transplants and one German hospital performed a double-arm transplant in 2008 (Krasny, Reuters, 9/13; Salahi, "Medical Unit," ABC News, 9/12). 

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