UCLA's First Hand Transplant Recipient Talks About Her Recovery
26-year-old Emily Fennell from Yuba City, California is the first patient to receive a complete hand transplant here at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and is speaking out about her experience now that the landmark surgery is six-and-a-half weeks behind her.
Fennell told the media today that she "is becoming so accustomed to her new right hand that she barely remembers when she didn't have one," reports UCLA. The 14-hour surgery was performed March 4th, and was the 13th hand transplant performed in the U.S.
The single mom of a six-year-old daughter lost her hand in a car accident in 2006. She says she is now able to wiggle her fingers, and that the experience of having a new hand has been "surreal." However, Fennell "has no sensation yet in the transplanted hand," reports the LA Times, explaining that "[t]he nerves grow about one millimeter a day from the connections the surgeons made to her arm, and it will be several more months before sensations develop."
Doctors remark that her recovery has gone "extremely well, both psychologically and physically." They note that Fennell is adapting, and has begun to say "my hand" instead of "the hand." She was discharged on April 8th, and has been living near the Medical Center in Westwood since then. Fennell will continue to live here, and undergo physical therapy, for two more months.