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Man Who Lost All Four Limbs Receives Double Arm Transplant14:51

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Will Lautzenheiser lost his arms and legs after a near-fatal infection in Montana.

When Here & Now's Robin Young spoke to Will and his identical twin Tom Lautzenheiser  this summer, Will had found out he was a candidate for a double arm transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Will and Tom Lautzenheiser are pictured at Will's home in Brookline, Mass. on July 3, 2014, before Will received a double arm transplant. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)
Will and Tom Lautzenheiser are pictured at Will's home in Brookline, Mass. on July 3, 2014, before Will received a double arm transplant. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)

Now that Will has received the double arm transplant, Robin paid another visit to Will and Tom to find out how they're doing.

"I feel such happiness. Every time I look and see my arms, I get giddy almost," Will said. "I wonder whether this man was aware of how beautiful his arms were, or are, because I look at them every day as a complete gift."

Robin also asked how Tom feels about the arms of a donor being attached to his identical twin.

"The arms that Will got are perfect for him," Tom said. "They're strong hands, they're healthy — they're a match. They may not be exactly as Will's hands were or my hands are, but they are close enough."

Interview Highlights: Will Lautzenheiser

On life after the transplant

"I feel like a newborn, haplessly moving around through space and trying to reintegrate, but doing it rather fumblingly. For example, I seem to have developed a habit of unintentionally groping people. If I knock into someone I don't notice it so much. A little awkward, peculiar.  I've become a serial groper, an unwitting serial groper."

On what has surprised him the most

"The [donor's family] said, 'Our son gave the best hugs. We pray that you make a wonderful recovery and that your loved ones will be able to enjoy your warm embrace'... I had thought I had missed being able to give hugs and to embrace, but what I hadn't realized was how much that actually meant. You have a memory of it, but then when you can do it — I can't give enough hugs now!"

On public reaction to his transplant

"People have been asking how I feel about organ donation; gee, I don't want to put it so coarsely but essentially the thought is, you know, 'what do you feel like having a dead person's arms on your arms?' And that's not how I look at it at all. These arms are completely alive and are my own."

Guests

  • Will Lautzenheiser, filmmaker, teacher of screenwriting and film production, and quadruple amputee.
  • Tom Lautzenheiser, regional scientist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and Will’s twin brother.
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