Jessica Arrigo — Hand Transplant Recipient
Jessica Arrigo was 21 in 2004, living in West Virginia and contemplating her next steps in her adult life. She filled her days with her favorite physical activities, like running and playing golf.
One day, while playing pool with her father, Jessica was struck with a violent illness that required immediate hospitalization. Within hours, she was in a coma, struggling for life.
The official diagnosis? A stomach virus that resulted in septic shock.
Over the next several months, Jessica endured many surgeries, including:
- Amputation of both legs below the knee
- Amputation of her right hand
- Reconstructive surgery on her left hand
It was during the reconstructive surgery at UPMC that doctors told her about the hand transplant program.
After undergoing the intense screening progress, Jessica found out she was an eligible candidate for surgery and was placed on the waiting list in December 2008.
And then, real life stepped in.
Jessica and her fiance found out she was pregnant with their first child, and she was removed from the hand transplant candidate list. She gave birth to a baby girl, Cody, in November 2009.
Knowing that, if a donor match was found, she would be separated from her infant daughter for a month while her body and immune system recovered from surgery, Jessica ultimately decided to be placed back on the list.
She felt that one month was a short time to sacrifice for a lifetime of being able to touch and feel.
Her match was found on September 11, 2010.
Jessica, her father, and Cody traveled to Pittsburgh from their home in Millville, N.J., for the 11-hour surgery.
Jessica knows that daily occupational therapy is necessary to regain the sensation and function she wants and needs.
She hopes to brush her daughter’s hair, to hold and feel her hand as she guides her through life, and to wear the engagement ring that currently hangs on a necklace around her neck.
Note: Jessica's results may not be representative of all similar cases.