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She lost her hands and feet, but now Corinne is waiting for the op that will change her life

Corinne Hutton (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Corinne Hutton (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

STANDING on her decking with the back garden sloping down to meet the rolling Renfrewshire hills, Corinne Hutton inspects her handiwork.

Rustic furniture has been painstakingly painted and plants freshly bedded and watered.

It’s a scene garden-lovers all across the country will recognise all too well as spring slips into summer with a welcome wave of warmth.

But there’s just a little extra satisfaction, a bit more pleasure to be taken for Corinne.

The planting was the first she’s really been able to do and the painting marked another in a series of personal mini-milestones.

She needed a double grip on the paint brush and sandwich bags tied with elastic bands to try to keep her clean.

Gloves, she smiles, would just have fallen off.

Corinne is the Scot waiting to be the UK’s first double hand transplant patient.

She lost her hands and feet to a near-fatal bout of septicaemia in 2013.

Ever since, she’s had to learn a whole new way of living, a fresh approach to so many ordinary, everyday tasks.

But as she settles back on the comfy black sofa in the tidy cream-walled living room of her Lochwinnoch home, it’s clear there’s barely a job she hasn’t learned to master.

“I just find a way to do it,” Corinne, 46, tells The Sunday Post.

“I can cook most things now, I just have to be really careful lifting pans. Chopping is difficult and I don’t think I could work out a method of peeling vegetables. But I buy ready-peeled, diced veg and chicken that’s already chunked.

“I can mop the floor two-handed but I can’t really push down as much as I’d like to get the floor really clean.

“I’m back doing the ironing again, something I shied away from because I was scared of burning myself.”

Corinne and her son Rory making omelettes (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Corinne and her son Rory making omelettes (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

She gestures to demonstrate how she can’t really spread an item of clothing into place, a meticulous straightening on the ironing board being required.

And when it comes to trying to change a duvet cover. . .

“I can’t grip to shake it like other people and virtually find myself in it. What’d be a 10-minute job can take two hours.”

There are delicate, precision things that are just impossible, though. Like cracking an egg.

And that’s where son Rory, seven, comes in.

“It’s a real team effort,” explains Corinne with pride as Rory arrives home from school, fist-bumping his mum as he bounces on to the sofa.

“He’s great with doing his bit and he doesn’t get away with an easy life.

“I know other mothers moan to their youngsters about tidying their room and not leaving toys lying about. But Rory knows he has to do things because either I can’t or it’s hard for me.

“I know he’ll do anything I ask but I’m really wary of it feeling like I’m using him as my carer. I don’t want him to be that kid.

“I have missed some things, like being able to show him how to tie his shoelaces. That’s a mum’s job.”

The bond between the pair is evident. It’s both mum and son and pals who like a joke.

“He’s understanding more about what happened and how I am as he grows up.

“And he’s really growing. When I’ve got my artificial legs off and we lie on the bed he loves that he’s bigger than me now.”

It was in 2013 that what started as a cough almost killed Corinne. And she’s just a matter of weeks away from an anniversary she couldn’t have imagined.

“The hunt for new hands started on September 1, 2014, so it’s coming up for two years now,” says Corinne, who’s separated from husband Russell.

“At the time I had friends who were between houses staying and I was thinking how it’d work in well because I knew Rory would be looked after if I had to rush away in the night.

“They were here for five months and I was gutted when they left and I’d waited that long. Now such a long time on I’m still waiting. It’s very frustrating and I have to rein myself in.

“I can be very impatient but then I remind myself that someone has to die for me to get these hands. You’re not going to moan in those circumstances.”

The search area has been widened from close to the Leeds transplant centre to the whole of Yorkshire. And a meeting next month could ease the criteria, further increasing the possibility of a match.

Corinne (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Corinne (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

A man’s hands could be acceptable, if they looked suitably delicate.

“I’ve built a relationship with the medical staff and I know they want the right result.

“I know it’s important to them that it looks good and it functions. But I just want to get up one day and forget that these are not my hands.”

The suitcase Corinne packed almost two years ago still lies upstairs, gathering dust and needing a check as she can’t recall what she put in it.

Even after the operation – two teams of surgeons working simultaneously for 16 hours – there will
follow up to two years of rehab to get mobility and sensation.

“It takes time,” she says. “It’s taken a long while to get any touch and awareness. I kept scalding myself as I couldn’t feel.

“That’s why I want the new hands as soon as is possible. I keep thinking, ‘Do I really want to be going through this pushing 50?’”

What has kept Corinne going is the charity she started, Finding Your Feet. It has grown amazingly, helping those who have lost limbs with practical and financial support, activities like climbing and cycling, swimming and now football.

And Corinne has been there at every step, mentoring and providing inspiration.

From Suzanne who lost an arm but is now powering up and down the swimming pool at Tollcross in Glasgow to the three amputees she just met in Dundee last week.

And Tracey in Southend-on-Sea, a quadruple amputee like Corinne whom she travelled to see when she was at her lowest ebbs.

“So many people have said we’ve been able to help, giving them the confidence to face the world again and that means everything,” adds Corinne.

Find out more at findingyourfeet.net


READ MORE

One year on I’m still waiting for vital hand transplant: Corinne’s search for donor continues