17 Mar, 2023 @ 12:45
2 mins read

British woman who lost all limbs in Spain asked if she would accept male hands as transplant

Kim Smith In Hospital

A British woman awaiting a rare double hand transplant after contracting a horror infection in Spain was asked if she’d accept limbs from a man, or a black person. 

Kim Smith lost all of her limbs after she contracted sepsis following a common urinary tract infection while she was on holiday in the Alicante region five years ago. 

Before the 61-year-old could get onto the waiting list for hand transplant surgery she needed to complete a year of blood tests, psychological tests and clinical questionnaires.

Smith told the Olive Press she was asked if she would accept the hands of a man, or a black person. 

Kim Smith
Kim Smith after major surgery.

She said the questions were standard procedure before being accepted onto the waiting list, and wanted to bring awareness to sepsis and the process of going through hand transplant surgery. 

“A man’s hands wouldn’t suit me – they’re too big and muscular and I’m only 5ft2 and used to have very small and petite hands,” Smith said. 

“I get stared at enough for being without hands and don’t really want to be stared at more with black hands on a white woman’s body – It’s not racist, it’s just what is the right fit for me.” 

Smith said she used a chart of different teas to demonstrate to doctors which colour she preferred. 

“It ranged from milky to light brown,” she said. 

“As desperate as I am to have hands again I don’t want to accept just anything – they’ve got to feel right.”

Kim Smith In Hospital
Kim Smith in hospital in Spain.

Kim had fallen ill while she and her husband Steve, from Milton Keynes, were on holiday on the Costa Blanca in November 2017.

They had plans to spend Christmas there, but one day while visiting the historic town of Sax she felt a pang of pain in her lower back.

She went to Elda Hospital where she had x-rays done, but doctors sent her away telling her she had no breaks or fractures. 

The next day she went to see another doctor, who did a test for a urine infection and, after confirming it, prescribed her with a course of antibiotics. 

But that night at 4am she was in so much pain she was rushed to hospital again, where doctors told her husband she ‘only had six hours to live’.

She really thought she was ‘going to die’ and was put into an induced coma for nine weeks, three weeks of it in her local hospital in Milton Keynes Hospital. 

Kim Smith With Hands
Kim Smith, before she lost her hands.

When she finally woke up surgeons told her that her hands and legs would need to be amputated as they had ‘gone black and completely died’ from sepsis. 

After major surgery she then spent six months in recovery.

She is now near the top of a waiting list for a double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, the only hospital in the UK that can perform the surgery. 

Doctors will need to make a complete blood match in order to find Smith’s new hands.

Tea Chart Kim Smith Used
The tea chart Kim used to indicate which colour hands she wanted.

The former hairdresser who used to cook every day and throw dinner parties every week said she couldn’t wait to get back into the kitchen once she received her new hands. 

Smith said the possibility of gaining independence again was her main motivation.

“Just realising I could go back to doing what I used to love doing is enough to keep me going every day,” she said.  

Kim has started an online community awareness page, Kim’s Chance, where she shares her journey with thousands of followers. 

She has also set up a sepsis support group in her home town of Milton Keynes.


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