Jeff Kepner, the first American to receive a double hand transplant, wishes they could be removed.
In an interview with TIME he reveals that the transplant was unsuccessful and he has never been able to utilise his hands.
“I sit in my chair all day and wear my TV out,” he said.
Kepner had his hands amputated in 1999 after his strep throat infection caused sepsis. Before he received the hand transplant in 2009, he used prosthetics which allowed him to not only hold down a job, but even drive a car.
Kepner figured if the transplant was unsuccessful, he could simply get them removed and go back to prosthetics. The doctor who oversees Kepner’s case, Vijay Gorantla, told TIME that “it’s uncertain if Kepner would be able to use prosthetics if the hands were removed, and that rigorous physical therapy would be required”.
While his life might improve if they were to partially amputate the transplanted hands, Kepner is tired of the relentless surgeries. “I am not going through all those operations again,” he said.
Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, the surgeon who performed the transplant, said that Kepner’s case is unusual. “The other three patients have had significant functional return in their hands and have been able to resume completely independent living, including driving, working, and going to school,” he explained.