Rick Thompson and his wife are moving from British Columbia to the procedure.
Surgeons in London, ON. is preparing to perform a double-hand transplant on a man from British Columbia who lost all four limbs in combat bacterial sepsis and meningitis that nearly killed him five years ago.
Rick Thompson left work early one day because he felt like he was down with the flu. He tried to sleep on the body shakes and fever but woke up a few hours later to feel dry.
“When I stood up, I could barely walk. My legs burn, they just burned. I made it down to where my wife was watching TV, and the last thing I remember was collapsed on the ground,” he said.
The Coquitlam, BC The man woke up six weeks later in the intensive care unit.
Although he challenged a five percent chance of survival given to him by a doctor when he was rushed to the hospital, the battle was not over yet. He and his wife were given a few hours to decide whether Thompson would like to be a quadruple amputee, or if he wants to die.
He took a life.
“If my family is strong enough to believe in me and do not give up on me, how can I give up on them and take the easy way out?”
Life as a quadruple amputee
Thompson said doctors amputated both arms and both legs, below the knee, in an operation that lasted 8.5 hours. He also had some reconstructive surgery on his face due to anesthesia affects the upper lip and nose.
“The first thing I think of when I woke up and looked down and saw that I had no arms and no legs are’ I made the wrong decision. ”
He’s come a long way since then.
“At the moment I walked with the help of my artificial leg,” he said. “I go to the gym three days a week. I go on the treadmill, I lift weights, my wife and I are both on a keto diet.”
Thompson said the double-hand transplant would be the first in Canada. He himself advocated for the procedure after reading about it online, and have the support of general practitioners and family.
Canada’s first-hand transplant patient says the operation has been made ‘whole’ again
Finally, he was able to connect with the surgeon in London interested in performing surgery. He and his wife flew to meet with the team from the University Hospital and the Hospital of St. Joseph in October 2018, and Thompson was elected as a candidate after a week of medical and psychological testing.
“Hands are there, visible, every day,” said Thompson. “You just have to get over the mental problems that they are really on other people’s bodies and now they are in your body.”
Thompson and his wife moved to London in early April. He said it could be months before a team of 14 surgeons can perform operations because they will wait for a donor match male, a 10 year-Thompson, and who had the same blood type.
The case against prosthetics
The hospital covers the cost of procedures and rehabilitation with research dollars from private donors, said Thompson. She pegs it at about $ 100,000, which is less than what you would pay out of pocket for a sophisticated two upper extremity prosthetics.
One prosthesis can cost up to the US $ 120,000 says, Thompson. It will have a one or two year warranty, and will only give him about 20 to 25 percent per function hand.
The operation, if successful, could provide more functions than 70 percent.
But for Thompson, it was not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of “when.”
“I just hope that after my surgery is successful, it will open the door for others to be able to receive this life-changing surgery as well.”
As a father and grandfather, Thompson said it would consider the hand as a gift.
“It’s a family gift that someone has decided to give it to you. You just have to accept that gift and you just do your best to make it work.”
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