Shortly after the birth of her third child, Katy Hayes suffered the ravages of flesh-eating bacteria. To save her life, doctors had to amputate her arms above her elbows and her legs above the knees. She was also in a coma for a month.
The Kingwood, Texas mother is set to have a double arm transplant this summer Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston. She had to go under a battery of tests in order to be eligible for the procedure.
The surgery is expected to last at least 15 hours. Doctors cannot predict the type of functionality that Hayes will have. The Houston Chronicle reports that the road to recovery will be long. It can take up to two years for the nerves to grow into her new hands. Doctors cannot guarantee if Hayes will ever have feeling in her new arms.
Ever the fighter, the 43-year-old is determined to have arms again. Hayes said, “I want my life back. I want to hold my last child before she’s grown – and she’s already 2. If anybody tells me ‘no,’ I’ll just go to the next hospital. ‘No’ is not an option.”
Four years ago, Karl Merck, a German farmer underwent a double arm transplant. Hayes is inspired by his ability to use his new arms to lift weights and shake hands.
However, the surgery is not without risks. A 27-year-old man in Turkey died after having a similar transplant earlier this year.
Hayes, though, sees herself as someone who can advocate for others in need of transplants. She now has her eyes on her future.
She told KHOU-TV in Houston, Before I was kind of dependent, laying there, not seeing really the kind of light at the end of the tunnel. And now I’ve got that light, and I’m just charging ahead. Because it’s within my reach. It’s going to happen.”