BOSTON (AP) — A former college professor who underwent a double arm transplant last month at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said Tuesday that the best thing about the operation is that he's able to hug his loved ones again.
Will Lautzenheiser — with both arms still in partial casts and splints — said at a news conference he's grateful to the anonymous donor who "will always be as close to me as my own skin."
So far, he has limited mobility in his new arms, but things are improving every day, he said.
"This is about it so far, but I had nothing," he said as he moved his arms back and forth.
He later added: "I can move my elbow — it's astonishing."
His doctors say he needs about another year of therapy before he has full mobility.
Lautzenheiser is a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University who became a quadruple amputee in 2011 following a life-threatening streptococcal infection. Doctors determined at the time that the only way to save his life was to amputate all four limbs.
He underwent a nearly nine-hour operation last month that involved 13 surgeons.
The Massachusetts native had already started a second career as a club comic before the transplant.
The donor family wished to remain anonymous but issued a statement.
"Our son gave the best hugs," they said. "We pray that you make a wonderful recovery and that your loved ones will be able to enjoy your warm embrace."