In the seven years since the surgery, the transplanted hands have never worked.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 5:57 PM
Things have gotten out of hand.
Seven years after going through the nation’s first double-hand transplant, Jeff Kepner wishes he could get rid of them.
After the surgery in 2009, Kepner was excited that he could wiggle his fingers, and looked forward to the day he could hold his wife and daughter’s hands again.
He’s still waiting.
“From day one I have never been able to use my hands,” Kepner told Time in an interview. “I can do absolutely nothing.”
Kepner, 64, originally lost his legs below the knee and arms below the elbow after a strep throat infection spread through his body in 1999. For 10 years, the Georgia man was using prosthetic arms and legs until his wife learned about the possible transplant surgery.
As the first American to undergo the procedure, Kepner accepted the many risks that would come with the procedure — which he’s regretfully living with now.
While connecting bones and blood vessels are routine, the trouble comes with getting nerves to successfully attach, Dr. Michael Hausman, a hand and upper extemity specialist told the Daily News in 2009, when the procedure first happened.
Jeff Kepner became the first double hand transplant patient in the United States in 2009. Seven years later, he wants to get rid of them.
(Gene J. Puskar/AP)
“You can imagine if you have six gloves on your hand,” Hausman said. “You don’t feel much, and this limited function can occur after a hand transplant. The restoration of feeling in the fingers has been a problem.”
Since the procedure, the surgeon who performed the transplant has operated to give three patients new hands, all who have had better luck than Kepner, Time reported.
As much as Kepner can’t stand his hands, he hates the surgeries even more.
“I am not going through all those operations again,” he told the publication.
The family has suffered a massive financial burden from the surgery, traveling back and forth from Georgia to the Pittsburgh Medical Center for additional surgeries.
His wife, Valarie, created a GoFundMe page in 2013, asking for donations to help ease their troubles.