Milton Keynes grandmother awaits double hand transplant after losing all her limbs to sepsis

A 60-year-old MK woman is to become one of only a few people in the UK to receive a double hand transplant.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 1:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 4:51 pm

Kim Smith became a quadruple amputee four years ago after severe sepsis caused her to lose circulation in all four limbs.

To save her life, doctors had to amputate her hands at the wrists and her legs from just above the knee.

Since then the once super-busy businesswoman has vowed her family and friends with her determination to live as full as life as possible – but she admits she is constantly frustrated with all the things she is unable to do.

Kim Smith had all four limbs amputated to save her life after sepsis

"I can’t even go to the bathroom on my own. I can’t cook, I can’t do housework or do my hair or go shopping, or do anything at all independently. I can’t do thing for my children and my three grandchildren. My husband Steve has to be my carer 24/7, which is hard when I’m such a fiercely independent person,” she said.

Former hairdresser and wedding planner Kim, who lives on Walnut Tree, has prosthetic hands but says she finds them such a limited help that she does not bother wearing them.

Now she has been assessed by surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary as a suitable candidate for a human hand transplant.

"Basically they have to wait until they find a suitable donor who dies and then they will transplant her hands onto me,” she said.

Kim is a fiercely independent person

"They have be be female hands, not male, and the surgeons will connect all the nerves and muscles so they will work almost as well as if they were my own hands. It’s amazing and I will be forever grateful to the donor.”

Only eight such transplants have been carried out in the UK. One of the first was on Cor Hutton from Scotland in 2019. Her progress was hailed as “phenomenal by doctors and she has more than 90% function in her new fingers.

"I can’t wait,” said Kim. “I could get the phone call at any time that they have a donor and I’ll have to be rushed to Leeds to have the surgery… It will be truly life-changing.”

Meanwhile, Kim is concentrating upon her next ambition – driving a car. She has found an adapted vehicle that she can operate using her stumps, using a rubber ball for steering and a lever for braking.

The prosthetic hands are too cumbersome and of limited use, says Kim

But to qualify through Motability’s grant scheme she must spend 12 hours a week doing voluntary work. Currently Kim spends five hours a week volunteering for the Sepsis Trust and the Steel Bones amputee charities.

"It’s a catch-22. I can’t do more hours because I can’t get there without a car,” she said.

Kim is now faced with raising the £30,00 cost of the car herself and has set up a fundraising page to appeal for the public’s help.

"Once I have a car, I’d love to do other work again. At 60 I’m not too old to get a job,” she said.

Core Hutton was one of the first patients to have a successful double hand transplant. They now have 90% function.

"And when I get my new hands, it will be even easier to drive the car and I’ll be able to do even more things for myself...It will be a dream come true.”