Emily Fennel from Yuba City, California, who lost her right hand in a 2006 serious car accident, underwent a hand transplant surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on March 4, 2011 within 14 hours.

Fennel’s new hand came from an unnamed deceased donor and its blood type, color and size made it good match for this single mother. However, she has to take anti-rejection medicie all her life to prevent her body from rejecting it.

The hand transplant surgery was the first of its kind in the Western U.S. and the 13th out of 14 such procedures performed in the U.S. It involved a group of 17 surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room nurses and technicians.

Emily Fennel shows off her right hand transplant

Doctors must use a microscope to make sure that things were just so while they connected two bones, 23 tendons, two arteries, four veins and at least three nerves to attach the hand.

The hand transplant looks like Fennel’s left hand in terms of size and color

During last five years, she tries to do everything with only her left hand


Though the 26-year-old was allowed to leave the hospital on April 6, 2011, she still plans to spend a couple of months living near here to be monitored by doctors and get occupational therapy.

X-rays of her badly injured hand

Surgeon Dr. Kodi Azari and organ preservationist Nicholas Feduska (left) arrive at UCLA Medical Center with a cooler containing the hand on March 4, 2011

After receiving the new right hand, Fenny hopes to do everything that she couldn’t do during the last five years like wiggling her fingers, putting her hair in a ponytail or cutting up steak with a knife and fork.

An image of her 14-hour surgery. Dr. Azari (seated right) checks on finger flexibility as the donor’s hand is attached to Fennell

She learns to pick up and place objects during an occupational therapy session on April 4, 2011

The first hand transplantation was performed in Ecuador in 1964 before the development of modern immunosuppressive therapy. Since then, more than forty hand transplants have been undergone around the world.

She tries playing chess with her new right hand


Fennell (right) listens as Dr. Azari describes the surgery that gave her a new hand in a press conference on April 19. 2011

Her face looks very happy after she has right hand transplant



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