For the Welch family, their trip to Trinidad seemed like a near-perfect vacation. They had just attended a beautiful wedding, and a day later Racquel, her nephew Lance and her daughter Paige were kayaking off a popular location under the mid-afternoon sun.
However, their dream trip turned into a nightmare when a run-away speedboat came careening into the area where the three were paddling, smashing their kayak and sending them tumbling into the ocean. Despite his serious injuries, Lance heroically dove deep into the water to pull Paige to the surface. Fortunately for all, a nearby Coast Guard boat witnessed the accident and helped pulled them from the water. And while the quick rescue prevented their potential drowning, the damage to the family’s bodies had been done. Racquel had crushed bones in her arm and back, as well as deep tears in her shoulder, leg and eye. Lance’s foot had been severed in the accident, and Paige’s arm had been nearly torn from her body from the elbow down.
The family was rushed to nearby medical centers where their conditions were stabilized. Lance’s foot was reattached, as was Paige’s arm. However, it wasn’t long before she began experiencing complications. Just two days after her surgery, it was clear that her young daughter needed more advanced treatment than what was available. Paige and her father Clark were then flown from Trinidad to Boston Children’s Hospital where she could receive the level of care she needed. (Due to her injuries, Racquel needed more time to heal—it would be two weeks until she was well enough to join her family in Boston.) …
As a child, Amir Taghinia, MD, was fascinated by the mechanics behind how things worked.
“I was always taking things apart and trying to fix them,” says Taghinia, surgical director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s newly launched Hand Transplant Program. “I ruined more than one toy truck back in the day, but it never upset me much. For me, the excitement of seeing how the individual parts worked together, and the challenge of trying to re-create it, was more fun than the toy anyway. ”
It’s a fascination that would stay with Taghinia from grade school to medical school, where he focused his studies on plastic surgery, taking specific interest in the hand. With more than 25 bones, 20 tendons, three major nerves and multiple veins and arteries, the human hand is one of the more intricate parts of our anatomy, making it the perfect field of study for Taghinia’s interests.
But Taghinia’s reverence for the hand is more than just an appreciation for its complex makeup and functional use—he views our hands as an extension of our personalities. …