Double-hand transplant recipient regaining independence

Kentucky's first female recipient of a double hand transplant is celebrating one year since her surgery. Holden Kurwicki reports

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Kentucky's first female recipient of a double-hand transplant is celebrating one year since her surgery.

Louella Aker lost both hands, and her legs below the knees after developing an infection from helping with the cleanup of the Henryville, Ind., tornado.

One year ago, Louella Aker wasn't sure what to expect while going under the knife for a double-hand transplant.

"I guess I kind of always felt that I would be able to walk when I got my prosthetics,” said Aker. "The idea of hands was just beyond anything.  I couldn't wrap my head around having hands that will move when my brain tells them too."

The goal of the surgery was to allow Louella to live an independent life after septicemia tried to rip that way.

"It's a long process,” said Dr. Tuna Ozyurekoglu.  “This isn't like one of the easy procedures of hand surgery."

"It's really gone quickly because they work you to death,” said Aker.

At times her recovery has been frustrating.

"Sometimes it's hard for me to pick up on seeing what I can do,” said Aker.  “I need them there to say you know two weeks ago you couldn't do that and now you can."

Based upon her progression doctors say Louella's recovery is remarkable.

"She's the only person not to have rejection in the past year,” said Dr. Ozyurekoglu.

While her right hand has responded faster than her left she's regained a grip on her independence that she never thought possible.

"I can do most of my housework now,” said Aker.  “I couldn't hold a broom, or a mop, or anything before."

While Aker still faces a long road to being fully independent, she’s confident in the team by her side.

"I just hit the jackpot I think,” said Aker.

Despite her rapid recovery Louella isn't completely in the clear.

Doctors say it could be five to six more years before she is completely recovered from the surgery.
 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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