Millville, NJ Woman Receives Hand Transplant

Pictured: Jessica Arrigo

September 14, 2010 7:08:08 AM PDT
A young South Jersey woman is on the mend tonight, after becoming one of the first women in the country to eceive a hand transplant.

Jessica Arrigo of Millville received a new right hand Saturday night at the University of Pittsburgh Medical center.

The operation took more than 12 hours, not ending till Sunday morning.

6 years ago, Jessica lost both feet, and much of her own hands to a bacterial infection.

Saturday morning about 3:30, the phone call came that a donor had been found.

She says within half an hour, she and father Wayne were on the road to Pittsburgh. She said she actually fell asleep on the long drive. Once they got there, there was a lot of waiting - getting tests, x-rays, and being prepped for the surgery.

She says her father was more nervous than she was in the moments leading up to surgery.

"He was shaking," she remembers.

The reality of her new hand is still sinking in for this mother of a 10-month-old girl..

Jessica. "I can move it - I can already move it and everything. It feels like they've sewn a Volkswagen to my arm - it's very heavy. My engagement ring, I can finally get it sized to fit my hand."

She's looking forward to returning home, to complete her college degree to become a social worker, and to little things, such as holding her daughter's hand, and putting her hair up herself.

Jessica has months of physical therapy ahead, but say she's ready for it.


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