Hampton Student Works with the World’s First Double Hand Transplant Patient

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Kyesha Wadlington

Nysah Warren | Staff Writer

Kyesha Wadlington, a senior nursing major at Hampton University spent her summer working with the world’s first pediatric double hand transplant patient.

Wadlington, a student of The School of Nursing, was a standout this summer being the youngest nursing extern at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

“At first I did not think that I would be selected for the program because of the competitiveness and the big name of the hospital,” said Wadlington. “The interview process was long and hard, but I do believe that Hampton prepared me with the necessary skills to make it out on top.”

After the long application process, Wadlington was selected to work on the medical team for 8-year-old, Zion Harvey, the first pediatric double hand transplant recipient.  

“When I found out that I was assigned to be a part of the healthcare team, I was so nervous,” Wadlington responded. “Little did I know, I would forever be a part of history and the advancement in healthcare.”

Harvey lost his hands to sepsis, a life threatening infection, when he was 2 years old and subsequently received a kidney transplant at the age of five.  The procedure is described as “rare” and “radical” on the hospital’s website.

(Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

The surgery had only been performed by few surgical teams around the world, however, it has never been performed on a child until now. Lead surgeon, Dr. L Scott Levin, and his team spent over ten hours  working on Harvey. After the surgery, Harvey emerged with a new set of working hands.

Although Wadlington did not participate in the actual surgery, Harvey was her patient throughout the recovery process. “I asked him [Harvey] what it is that he wanted to do with his new hands and he told me climb on the monkey bars,’” says Wadlington.

“Then I made him practice opening and closing his fingers and he told me, ‘I thought you was a nurse not the physical therapist’.” The everyday interactions with Harvey greatly impacted Wadlington.

“Interacting daily with the patient and his family made going to work a joy,” comments Wadlington “I never realized what bravery was until I saw it firsthand inside the heart of little Zion.”

As Wadlington enters her final semester at Hampton she gives thanks to the nurses and the entire healthcare team at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“I also want to thank the staff at Hampton University School of Nursing for preparing me to be a great nurse,” says Wadlington “I could not have asked for a better way to jumpstart my career as a pediatric nurse.”