Double hand transplant patient: 'This will change my life' - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Double hand transplant patient: 'This will change my life'

The transplants hands of Louella Aker (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News) The transplants hands of Louella Aker (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Louella Aker lost both legs, her left arm and part of her right hand due to an infection. (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News) Louella Aker lost both legs, her left arm and part of her right hand due to an infection. (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Louella Aker (Source: KentuckyOne Health) Louella Aker (Source: KentuckyOne Health)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Jeffersonville, Indiana woman who lost her limbs due to an infection has received new hands in a double transplant.

Louella Aker, 69, received the new limbs during a 17-hour procedure on September 17 at Jewish Hospital by a team of 20 surgeons from Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand & Microsurgery and the University of Louisville.

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While helping in the cleanup of Henryville, Indiana following the EF-4 tornado of March 2, 2012, Aker acquired an infection. After being diagnosed with septicemia, Aker underwent a bilateral, below the knee amputation on her legs. Also amputated were her left forearm and part of her right hand.

"There are so many things you cannot do without your hands. This will change my life and allow me to do the things I miss, like holding my granddaughter’s hand," said Aker, in a statement released by Jewish Hospital. "I spent many days praying for a donor, but also crying for the donor's family for their loss. This is such a huge and exquisite gift they have given me and I thank and bless them for their sacrifice. I also want to thank the surgeons, my family and my church for their support."

Aker had been on the organ donor registry exactly one year before receiving the transplant. She was the tenth person, and the first woman, to receive a hand transplant at Jewish.

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"Although a little slow, we are pleased with the progress that Louella has been making," said Dr. Tuna Ozyurekoglu, the lead surgeon from Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center. "She is truly a fighter who has continued to grow stronger each day following this surgery. We look forward to watching her return to her normal activities, as she shows the world how successful transplantation can be."

Aker was placed on immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of the new hand and is being closely monitored for signs of rejection and adverse reaction to medications.

"She is tolerating her medications, and to date, has no signs of clinical rejection," said Dr. Christopher Jones, director of adominal transplantation and associate professor of surgery, University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital.

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