West Coast's First Hand Transplant Recipient Opens Up - NBC 7 San Diego

West Coast's First Hand Transplant Recipient Opens Up

Single mother, 26, adapting to new hand



    West Coast's First Hand Transplant Recipient Opens Up
    UCLA Health System/Ann Johansson Photography
    Before and After: On the left, Emily Fennell poses at her home in Yuba City on March 3. On the right is Fennell during an occupational therapy session at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on April 4.

    After a rollover car accident that caused her to lose her right hand, 26-year-old Emily Fennell could not take care of her infant daughter like she wanted to.

    "She wanted mom and mommy couldn't do everything for her," said the single mother from Yuba City.

    Fennell is the first person west of the Rockies, and only the 13th person in the nation, to receive a hand transplant. She says she made the decision to get the transplant after discussions with her family.

    "We decided that me being made whole again was more important," she said. "The benefits outweighed the risks."

    Six weeks ago, Fennell underwent the transplant at UCLA Medical Center. The 14-hour surgery was an intricate operation in which surgeons attached two bones, two arteries, four veins and as many as 20 tendons.

    Soon after the surgery, while still recuperating from the procedure in the hospital, she was able to move a finger.

    Her daughter Hanna is also getting used to the new hand.

    “My stub was considered the special hand and at first she was hesitant to mommy having a surgery because I was special," Fennell said. "But now that I have a second hand, she says, 'Mommy, it's really cool."

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