This story is from the category Augmenting Organics
Date posted: 08/05/2009
Valarie Kepner was so excited at learning last fall that doctors might be able give her husband new hands that she called the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center without telling him first.
Jeff Kepner, 57, had lost his hands and feet a decade ago to sepsis that developed from a strep infection. On Monday, he became the first person to undergo a double hand transplant in the United States and the second person to undergo a hand transplant through the hospital's new hand transplant program.
"I really wanted him to regain his independence," Kepner said in an interview Thursday at UPMC.
"I think he's really excited," she said. "Just being able to look down and kinda see the fingertips, you know, which really is the only thing that's showing at this point, I think is really neat for him. He kinda keeps looking down and looking at them. It's kinda cool."
Kepner, of Augusta, Ga., isn't able to move his new hands or feel them yet; that will depend on how long it takes for his nerves to grow, a process that could take months.
"This whole surgery just opens up just the possibilities for him to just to be able regain his independence in so many ways and to go back ... to cook and to do the things he could do in the past," she said.
"He keeps teasing our choir director that he wants to play a piano duet with her," Kepner said. "Even if he could only play 'Chopsticks,' she would be thrilled."
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