According to the Houston Chronicle, Katy Hayes of Kingwood, Texas, is about to receive a groundbreaking double arm transplant. All of her limbs were amputated due to an attack of flesh-eating bacteria.* Hayes, a mother of three, found herself infected with flesh eating bacteria two years ago after the birth of her last child. Doctors were obliged to amputate both legs above the knees and her arms above the elbows to save her life.
* The operation to replace Hayes' arms will take place at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a teaching facility affiliated with Harvard University.
* The procedure will require the services of 40 medical personnel and take 15 hours. First the bones have to be attached with metal plates. Then the nerves, blood vessels and tendons will have to be attached with microscopic sutures.
* One reason the recovery will take a long time is the nerves have to grow up the length of the arms to the hands to restore some form of function. Doctors are not certain what the extent of functionality will be achieved, but Hayes expressed hope she will be able to manipulate objects, brush her teeth and hug her husband and children.
* A farmer in Germany, according to the U.K. Daily Mail had the arms of a dead teenage boy attached to replace the ones he lost in an accident four years ago. One of the problems surgeons faced was that since skin tissue was involved, rejection was a possibility. The Houston Chronicle notes the farmer, Karl Merk, is able to scratch his head, shake hands, lift weights and ride a bicycle.
* The Houston Chronicle notes Hayes had to undergo physical tests to make sure she was a viable candidate. According to Today's Zaman, a Turkish man who recently received a double arm transplant died due to inflection. To prevent rejection, Hayes' immune system will have to be suppressed for a time.
* She also underwent psychological tests. The recipient of the first hand transplant, the U.K. Daily Mail reported, eventually had the hand removed because he felt "mentally detached" from the appendage.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
- flesh eating bacteria