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Thursday, July 10, 2014

As Quadruple Amputee Awaits Arm Transplant, Identical Twin Waits As Well

Will Lautzenheiser and his identical twin Tom are pictured at Will's home in Brookline, Mass. on July 3, 2014. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)

Will Lautzenheiser and his identical twin Tom are pictured at Will’s home in Brookline, Mass. on July 3, 2014. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)

Will Lautzenheiser, a former teacher at Boston University, had just started teaching film at Montana State University three years ago when he lost all four limbs to a group A streptococcal infection.

Robin Young (right) interviews Will Lautzenheiser for this piece. At left is his partner Angel Gonzalez. On the couch is twin Tom Lautzenheiser. (Sam Fields/Here & Now)

Robin Young (right) interviews Will Lautzenheiser for this piece. At left is his partner Angel Gonzalez. On the couch is twin Tom Lautzenheiser. (Sam Fields/Here & Now)

It was shattering for Will, but also for his identical twin Tom Lautzenheiser. Now, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has given the OK to a rare, still experimental double arm transplant for Will.

Here & Now’s Robin Young spoke to the twins about the impact on both their lives and about how stand-up comedy has become a healing tool for Will.

According to Tom, Will’s jokes have changed since his illness, often relating to the new situations he has found himself in over the past three years.

“People catch themselves all the time now,” Will said. “I had a therapist say to me, ‘We’re crossing our fingers.’ And then, of course, she did a double take and said, ‘And our thoughts, and our minds.’ Bad save — you know, that doesn’t really work.”

“But you have to laugh at these things,” he explained, “Because otherwise you just weep all the time.”

2013 WBUR video about Will Lautzenheiser

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.
  • Angel Gonzalez, Will’s partner of five years.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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