Savannah Woman Receives World's First Wrist Transplant - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/21/03

Savannah Woman Receives World's First Wrist Transplant

Leeca Snyder's car flipped over, crushing part of her arm. The only way to fix the problem was to replace the wrist. The problem was that no doctor had ever done it before. In addition to her being the first person to undergo this surgery, what makes this case so unique is that the patient had surgery on Monday, and today she was back at work.

"I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looked on Tuesday," she said.

Despite her arm bandage, it's hard to believe how far she's come. Her journey as a pioneer started at a Savannah intersection, 50th Street and Habersham. Little did Snyder know that the low-impact car accident she was in would later have a major impact in the field of medicine.

"When the Jeep righted itself, there was one tendon holding my hand back on," she said.

When soctors told Snyder she would have to amputate her hand, she refused.

"I was only focused on whatever it took to save my hand," she said.

Since her accident at the intersection, it's been a long road to recovery for Snyder. For the past three years she has spent a total of 65 hours in the operating room, but her journey to recovery is not yet completed.

"We've told the patient that there's a low probability of success, and if this fails she would like to proceed with amputation," surgeon Dr. Warren Breidenbach  said.

For now, Snyder says her transplant surgery was a success. She went from having a no wrist and nothing but a metal rod holding her hand to her arm to having a brand new donor wrist. And when she woke from surgery, she could move it as if it were her own.

"It's very minimal. I mean you really have to be able to watch to see that I can do it, but I haven't been able to do that in 2 1/2 years," she said.

Although Snyder is in pain, she says it's a good thing, because for the last three years, she hasn't felt anything at all. We were told this surgery will take about six months to heal. Then Snyder will undergo another surgery that will require removing tendons and nerves from one of her feet to replace the ones she lost in her hand and wrist.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

 

Powered by Frankly