Former BU professor approved for bilateral arm transplant

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June 26, 2014, 6:08 pm
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A former Boston University professor of screenwriting and film production is writing a new chapter on bravery.

Will Lautzenheiser has been approved for a bilateral arm transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He became a quadruple amputee in 2011 after getting a life-threatening infection from group A streptococcus.

"These doctors are amazing and I know that I'm in good hands as I'm going through the process to get new hands myself," he said.

The number of arm transplants done worldwide is only estimated to be around 7, while the number of double transplants is even fewer; at Brigham and Women's, this procedure will be the third of its kind.

"We have not done an above the elbow transplant and it's considered generally, technically perhaps a little easier, but in terms of recovery a little bit less predictable," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac said.

Despite his daily struggles, the 40 year old uses comedy as an outlet. Lautzenheiser says staying positive is a way of life.

"I focus on what I can do next and what I can do now rather than the losses and things that I can't do," he said.

Following a lengthy screening period, officials say Will must now wait for a donor. Once that happens, the recovery process and surgery itself will take a great deal of time.

"William's case is going to take between 12 and 15 hours and the team is probably going to be around 10-15 surgeons," Dr. Pomahac said.

Lautzenheiser says he understands there's no guarantee as to how much mobility and feeling he'll gain, but says in this case, a little will go a long way. He jokes the only downside is what the surgery could mean for his comedy.

"I'm not sure whether I'll be quite as able to do it afterward. I feel like maybe half of my best material will be gone after this surgery," he said, laughing.

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Tags: Boston University, brigham and women's hospital, bilateral arm transplant, quadruple amputee, Katelyn Flint, Will Lautzenheiser
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