On March 5th, Emily Fennell, 26-year old single mother from Yuba City (Califronia), became the first person in California and 13th in US to receive a hand transplant.

(Image courtesy: LA Times)

UCLA recently released a video detailing the surgery and rehabilitation at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Check the video –

Five years ago, Fennell lost her right hand in an automobile accident.


On June 11, 2006, Fennell was a passenger in the front seat of a car that was clipped by another vehicle and rolled over. The sunroof was open. Fennell’s hand went through the space and was caught between the car and the road. The mangled hand had to be amputated.Source: articles.latimes.com

(Image Courtesy: CBS News)

Fennel who was right handed was determined to get her life back to normal, so she started to learn to use her left hand.

She learned to use her left hand to write, dress, drive a car and work in an office typing 40 words per minute. When she received a prosthetic arm six months after the accident, she had already mastered many tasks with her left hand and, after months of trying, concluded that the prosthesis wasn’t helping.

But she wanted to be able to do more for herself and her daughter, now 6. She heard about hand transplants last year from a friend who was also an amputee, and immediately began researching the surgery.Source: articles.latimes.com

The complex operation required surgeons to attach 23 tendons, two bones, two arteries and at least three nerves as explained by Dr. Kodi Azari, the surgical director of UCLA’s hand transplant program.

(Image Courtesy: CBC.ca)


During the marathon operation on March 5th, surgeons grafted a hand from a deceased donor and connected tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bones. The deceased donor’s family, from San Diego, consented.

The surgical procedure was done in the following order:

    * Bone fixation
    * Tendon repair
    * Artery repair
    * Nerve repair
    * Vein repair
Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Typical operation takes 6-8 hours, longer than a heart transplant.

Currently, Fennell has no feelings in her hand, which could take an year. Currently, she is able to move some of her fingers. Fennel has been undergoing “intensive rehabilitation” over the last four weeks, so that her dexterity and hand strength can improve.

By best part about the story – her 6 year old daughter described mommy’s new hand as “Cool”.