Mom donates daughter’s hands in rare transplant

The family of hand donor, Shayna Sturtevant. Left: Shayna's fiance, Andy Steinhauer of Norton Shores, son Oliver, mother Debra Wyant. (Courtesy Gift of Life Michigan/Jan. 10, 2017)
The family of hand donor, Shayna Sturtevant. Left: Shayna's fiance, Andy Steinhauer of Norton Shores, son Oliver, mother Debra Wyant. (Courtesy Gift of Life Michigan/Jan. 10, 2017)

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — The first-ever hand transplant donation in the state of Michigan is giving one person a new take on life.

Shayna Sturtevant was only 21 years old when she died in September of a brain abscess stemming from an ear infection.

Sturtevant had signed up to be an organ donor, but a hand donation requires special permission from the family. When Sturtevant’s family was told she was a match for a patient needing hands, they agreed.

“Shayna was such a giving person that I knew she would want to help someone who needed hands,” her mother, Debra Wyant, told Gift of Life Michigan. “I can’t imagine what life would be like without the ability to touch or hold or do things for yourself. Ultimately, saying yes to that was pretty easy. I hope her recipient is living a better life with my angel’s gifts.”

The transplant was successful, but Gift of Life doesn’t release details about the recipient due to privacy laws.

“This may not be ‘life-saving’ by definition, but if you can imagine life without your hands it must be incredibly life-altering,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life.

Along with her hands, Sturtevant’s kidneys, lungs, pancreas and liver were also donated which saved the lives of three people.

Since 1999, only 30 people have received hand transplants in the U.S.

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