Organ banks around the country have noted an increasing number of organs from donors who have died of overdoses.
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.
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.”
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.”