Health

Former BU Professor to Get Double Arm Transplant

Boston, MA - 06/26/14 - Will Lautzenheiser, a quad amputee and a former BU professor, speaks at a press conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He's been approved for a bilateral arm transplant. He was joined by his doctors Bohdan Pomahac (left) and Simon Talbot. Lane Turner/Globe Staff Section: BIZ Reporter: staff Slug: 27seventhings
Will Lautzenheiser, a quad amputee and a former BU professor, spoke at a press conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He's been approved for a bilateral arm transplant.The Boston Globe

A filmmaker and former Boston University professor who lost both his arms and both his legs after a serious infection has been approved to undergo a procedure at a local hospital that would give him two new arms thanks to an experimental transplant.

The Boston Globe reported that Will Lautzenheiser, 40, had to have all four limbs amputated three years ago after a streptococcal infection threatened his life. But on Thursday, Lautzenheiser and his doctors held a press conference to announce that the double arm transplant surgery had been approved.

From The Globe:

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To receive approval from a hospital review board, Lautzenheiser had to go through a nearly yearlong evaluation process, which included scouring his medical history as well as a psychological and psychiatric evaluation.

“My thoughts stayed hopeful through the evaluation,” Lautzenheiser said in an interview. “The recovery is going to be the biggest challenge, so I’m going to need the support of my friends and community. I need all the help I can get.”

The surgery would take 12 to 16 hours, Talbot said, and Lautzenheiser would spend one to two weeks in the hospital. Learning to use his new arms could take years.

The Globe report said the procedure is especially notable since doctors have never attempted an arm transplant on a patient who lost limbs above the elbow.

Doctors will have to monitor Lautzenheiser’s health closely as he will be required to take immunosuppresant drugs that will prevent his body from rejecting the new limbs but also limit his ability to fight off illness and infection, according to the report.

The Globe added that the hospital is expected to cover many of Lautzenheiser’s expenses, and the doctors are going to donate their time for the procedure. The procedure will not take place until a suitable donor who shares Lautzenheister’s blood type and antibodies is located.

He may also undergo a double leg transplant at some point in the future.

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