Carla and her hands, one year after the operation
Twelve months after the double transplant at San Gerardo Hospital in Monza, today, the woman continues to make improvements, and has reached 40% function in both arms.
A year has passed. It is twelve months since Carla Mari left the operating theatre of San Gerardo Hospital, in Monza. She had undergone an extremely delicate operation that had lasted several hours. Three and a half years after both limbs had been amputated, because of an infection following cystitis, doctors had reattached her hands. Today, Carla opens the door to us, alone, and welcomes us again to her house, with the smile she had a year ago, when she had just come home. She tells us about the big and little improvements. “I’ve reached 40% movement,” she says, twisting her wrist partially before us. “For some things, I’ve exceeded the mobility I had with the prostheses, and for others, there’s still a long way to go.” Carla talks about the small, everyday successes. “At night, I don’t have to wake my husband up any more to tuck in a blanket that’s slipped off, or to scratch my nose,” she says. “These might seem little things to you, but not to me.”
Carla also speaks about her relationship with others. “Right from the beginning, I always had a great feeling of warmth from everyone I know,” she explains. “What’s best is being able to shake their hands again, to hear them tell me if my hand feels cold or warm.”
In these twelve months, Carla has had to undergo rehabilitation, which, at times, has been tough. At the beginning, she had to take a lot of drugs, to undergo physiotherapy, and to stay at home for long periods, because of the immuno-suppressants which made her weak. “Now, it’s much better, the most difficult time is over, but what gave me the strength was the thought that they had reattached my hands; I don’t want to sound egotistical, but it helped to avoid rejection.”
Not for one second did she doubt her decision. “Psychologically, I took it well,” she continues. “I have to thank my family for this, my husband and my two children. They never challenged my decision, they’ve always been cooperative, accepting what I wanted.” And her determination has brought her to this great result.
Carla Mari also talks about the future although she does not want to set herself goals. “Better not,” she smiles. “I don’t know how far I’m going to get, so I have no illusions that might lead to disappointment. Of course, I have a dream, to be able to make the dough for at least one pizza.”
She has another year ahead of her, to get comfortable with her hands, but now, between one interview and another, she has this great result to celebrate. “Professor Del Bene (the surgeon who operated on her, ed.) says it’s important to show off my results to the media,” Carla concluded. “I’m a shy person, I don’t like to be in the limelight, but it’s worth it, for science.”
A little later, we leave her to her next interview. “The crew from the television programme ‘La vita in diretta’ will be here soon.” She smiles and shakes our hands.