The goal: New arms

first_imgWill Lautzenheiser is an organ donor, willing to contribute almost everything. He said so on camera today.“Obviously, I’ve missed the opportunity to donate my own arms and legs, but everything else can be considered a hand-me-down, including my face if need be,” Lautzenheiser said.The pronouncement got a chuckle out of an assemblage of normally hard-boiled newspaper and television reporters, gathered to document Lautzenheiser’s decision to pursue a double arm transplant that may give him greater independence, and which represents the latest foray by the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) into the frontiers of organ and tissue transplantation.Lautzenheiser, 39, is a quad amputee who until several years ago was a Boston University film professor. His trouble started in 2011, as he was beginning a new job in Montana. He developed a streptococcus infection that became necrotizing fasciitis, which destroyed the tissues of his arms and legs and nearly killed him. Doctors had to amputate the limbs to save his life.Lautzenheiser hopes to become BWH’s third double arm-transplant patient, its first involving an arm above the elbow, and one of just a few in the world to undergo the bilateral procedure. Simon Talbot, assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the lead surgeon on Lautzenheiser’s case, said that precise numbers are difficult to find, but there have been roughly 70 cases of arm transplants so far around the world, very few of which were double transplants.Lautzenheiser said his lack of independence was a factor in his decision to go forward with the procedure. With no legs, one arm amputated above the elbow, and one below the elbow, he is dependent on others for virtually everything. Even just gaining another elbow, he said, would help him greatly.If the procedure works as hoped, physicians expect that his right arm, which has its own elbow joint and some forearm muscles intact, will regain a great deal of functionality. The transplanted left arm has more question marks, Talbot said, but some functionality and even a sense of touch are possible.Lautzenheiser said he looks forward to holding his niece, hopes to resume his film work, and wants to cook again, something he misses greatly.He cleared BWH’s Institutional Review Board, which screens potential transplant candidates for a host of physical and psychological factors to ensure that they’re suitable for the procedure, according to Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at BWH and associate professor of surgery at HMS.Pomahac, who led the team that performed the first U.S. face transplant in 2011, appeared at the news conference at BWH with Lautzenheiser, Talbot, and Richard Luskin, president and chief executive officer of the New England Organ Bank. After a century of development, transplantation has been dramatically accelerating in recent years, Pomahac said. Faces, upper extremities, and, more recently, lower extremities are being transplanted, promising restored functionality that was impossible a few years ago.The body’s immune response remains a problem, he said, and recipients must take immune-suppression drugs for the rest of their lives to keep their bodies from rejecting a graft as foreign. In addition to pioneering surgical transplant techniques, BWH is conducting research on ways to help the body accept its transplanted parts, he said, with clinical trials underway examining how to minimize the use of immune-suppression drugs and induce tolerance of the graft by the body.“We feel we are very close, and the future will tell,” Pomahac said. “What we are hoping to provide … is independence, something no prosthesis can provide.”BWH’s program has enjoyed a great deal of support from the hospital administration, Pomahac said, as well as funding from the Defense Department, which is interested in new ways to heal soldiers returning with battlefield injuries. A key partner in the effort is the New England Organ Bank, which will now begin looking for suitable donors for Lautzenheiser.Pomahac, Lautzenheiser, and Luskin expressed gratitude to families who, despite their grief at losing a loved one, decide to donate a body that can be used to save or improve other lives. Donor arms for Lautzenheiser will be matched to him in a number of ways, including blood type, skin tone, size, and gender.There remains a huge need for organ donation nationally, Luskin said. About 18 people die each day awaiting a donor organ, with 4,000 people waiting for organs in New England alone.“Unfortunately, there are just not enough donors,” Luskin said.Once a donor is found, Lautzenheiser faces 12 to 16 hours of surgery by a team led by Talbot. The surgeons will work on each arm of the donor and recipient, first severing and then reattaching bones, muscles, tendons and nerves. After surgery, Lautzenheiser will be in the hospital for weeks, after which he will face months of recovery. Talbot said it is difficult to know how much functionality Lautzenheiser will regain, and progress will likely be slow.Lautzenheiser, who thanked the doctors who treated him in Montana and Utah, said he initially didn’t think limb transplantation was an option. It was only after he had returned to Boston that a physician at Boston Medical Center suggested it and connected him with the BWH program.Lautzenheiser said the people around him kept him thinking positively and looking to the future, rather than fixating on his loss. He worked on a short film of his story, called “Stumped,” which is playing at film festivals, and has done comedy routines poking fun at his situation.With the bilateral arm transplant, Lautzenheiser will still be without legs, though he said new hands would help him manage his leg prostheses. He would consider a leg transplant, he said, though the surgeons said a four-limb procedure is not yet safe.Lautzenheiser admitted he feels some nervousness about the upcoming procedure and the uncertainty ahead. Though a quad amputee, he’s healthy now, he said. He’s looking forward to not just regaining function, but also helping to answer questions such as the long-term effects of anti-rejection drugs, which could aid future patients.“These are important questions, and I’m as curious as anyone,” Lautzenheiser said. “Let’s find out.”last_img read more

Three Pint-Sized Actors to Join West End’s Matilda in Title Role

first_imgA host of charmingly naughty and revolting children will join the West End company of Matilda. Zaris-Angel Hator, Clara Read and Emily-May Stephenson will join Evie Hone in the title role beginning March 15 at London’s Cambridge Theatre. The three step in for Anna-Louise Knight, Lara McDonnell and Lizzie Wells.Also joining the cast are Nael Ameen, Henry Austin, Owen Bagnall, Oliver Crouch, Ellie-Rose Eames, Taha Elamin, Twinkle Jaiswal, Thea Lamb, Oliver Llewelyn Williams, Maxim Samartsev, Josh Shadbolt, Harrison Wilding, Ynez Williams, Maisy-May Woods-Smeeth and Dora Yolland. They join the rotating roster of pint-sized actors who play Bruce, Lavender, Amanda and Crunchem Hall students.Matilda is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny. Based on the beloved Roald Dahl novel of the same name, the musical features a book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.The Royal Shakespeare Company production, directed by Matthew Warchus, premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010 before transferring to the West End and winning seven Olivier Awards. View Commentslast_img read more

Highlights: Blake Griffin blocks his former Clippers teammate Montrezl Harrell at the basket

first_imgOne week after being traded to the Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin did not have to wait long to play against the Los Angeles Clippers.While the Pistons did come up short against Griffin’s former team in the 108-95 loss at Little Caesars Arena, he did make his presence felt with a huge block against Montrezl Harrell. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Griffin was shy of a double-double after recording 19 points and eight rebounds against the Clippers.PreviousDetroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin catches a pass during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris, rear, and guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsDetroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) makes a layup during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) and forward DeMarre Carroll (9) close in on Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin catches a pass during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)NextShow Caption1 of 4Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin catches a pass during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Expandlast_img read more