BirminghamJuly 16, 2012
Mom with Michigan ties fights for normalcy after losing her limbs
By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer
Click on the link below to see the video created by Amber Bothne for her mother
BIRMINGHAM — It was Feb. 10, 2010, when Katy Hayes gave birth to her third child. As she held her new baby girl, Arielle, Hayes had no idea that it would be the last time she would ever hold her again in her own arms.
Shortly after Arielle was born, Hayes slipped into a coma. Her family was told she wouldn’t live through the end of the week. The diagnosis was necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria caused by a Strep-A infection that Hayes likely was carrying for some time.
As the infection spread through her body, her family was forced to make a decision — let the bacteria take her life, or make the impossible choice to amputate her arms and legs to stop the infection. Her husband, Al, signed the papers, and three months later Hayes awoke from her coma to find her arms and legs gone.
Though Hayes, who lives in Kingwood, Texas, found herself with a newborn baby she couldn’t care for on her own, her spirit was surprisingly optimistic, according to her mother, Lucille McNaughton of Dearborn.
“She’s a wonderful girl. I’m not bragging because she’s my daughter, but she really is. She’s had an excellent attitude 99 percent of the time.”
It’s been just over two years since Hayes’ nightmare first began, and now, a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Hayes is now in Boston, where she’s just been added to a donor waiting list to undergo a double arm transplant. According to Hayes, the procedure will be the first one performed in the United States.
“The fact that I’m actually being blessed with these arms, it’s like winning the lottery,” said Hayes in a video her 18-year-old daughter, Amber Bothne, created.
“I feel like I’ve been so disconnected without the ability to take care of myself, much less my kids, without having fingers anymore, has been real challenging. Very difficult.”
For Bothne, her teenage years were made all the more trying when her mother became ill. She stepped in to take care of her younger siblings while her mother was recuperating from the amputation and learning to live life without arms and legs.
“It was really hard on me when everything happened because I was 15. I took care of my family my junior year of high school, but it’s really helped me. It made me grow as a person.
“When I first got the news that they had to amputate her hands, I cried continuously because I immediately thought about the things she wasn’t going to get to do anymore. She used to bead, and she was a massage therapist. I was really sad because I knew she wasn’t going to be able to hug my sister.”
Such a tremendous opportunity, however, comes with a price. Her medical bills are in the thousands, according to McNaughton, and they continue to climb with the impending transplant. That’s why McNaughton, Hayes’ sister Jennifer Nabozny and other family and friends in metro Detroit have joined together to hold a fundraiser for Hayes and her family.
Nabozny, who lives in Jackson, said the fundraiser is one way the family can try to give Hayes what she wants most: independence.
“This woman doesn’t want to be living off other people. She wants to be part of the workforce. Her highest vision for herself is to hold the keys in her hand to get in a vehicle herself and drive to work. Our goal is to make that a reality.”
The event will take place Friday, July 20 at Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills. Guests can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment from a variety of performers, including guitarist Mark Sandstrom, whose repertoire includes traditional Americana tunes and popular covers.
During the evening, there will be live and silent auctions with a range of items, from small gift baskets and crafts to larger prizes, like a dinner for two at Peabody’s restaurant in Birmingham and a round of golf at a local course.
McNaughton hopes that the event will draw people who are looking to have a good time while helping to give her daughter a chance at a new life.
“I hope it will be a lot of fun, and I hope a lot of people will be there. This will pay some of the bills, which are astronomical. I know Katy is just hoping it’s all going to go well, but it will probably take her six months to a year to really make (the arms) function.”
Bothne knows firsthand how much it means to her mother, and to her family, to undergo the transplant. She said she’s excited for her mom to be able to embrace her once again.
“Knowing she’s going to get these arms — I’m really excited she might get to hug my sister or tickle my brother. She’s getting opportunities back, and I’m really happy about that.”
The fundraiser will take place 6:30-9 p.m. July 20. The family is asking for a $10 donation per person at the door. Birmingham Unitarian Church is located at 38651 Woodward Ave. in Bloomfield Hills. For more information on Katy Hayes’ story or to donate, visit www.KatyHayesFund.com.
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