BRADENTON (FOX 13) - A Bay Area teen, born without fully developed fingers on her left hand, has had the transplant surgery a doctor once told her would never be possible.
Rachael Pinwinski was already destined to be unique. She was born a quadruplet -- and from her first moment, she was different.
She told FOX 13 News during an interview in December, "[My mom] kept asking my dad [about] fingers and toes. My brother came out and he's like, 'yup.' And I came out, and my dad was like [uh oh]."
But if you didn't know all the work doctors had done since we sat down with Rachael, her statement that her hand, "is like a magic trick," would be the only conclusion.
"When I saw it last week, my doctor was like, 'You are looking kind of pale, are you OK?'" Rachael said.
The Palm Harbor 19-year-old was born with amniotic band syndrome, which stunted the development of four fingers on her left hand. She has endured eight surgeries and a lifetime of pain.
But now, she can say, "I have five fingers. And I am excited. I am so excited."
Last year, she decided to have a full reconstruction. The first of several surgeries took place February 13, and lasted 22 hours.
"I like to brag because now I have the record for the longest surgery [at Blake Medical Center]," she said.
Her new hand was carefully crafted using tissue from her foot, abdomen, and from a donor. Doctors took the second toe on her left foot and put it on her left hand, to serve as her fourth finger.
During a second surgery, they took two donor bones to use as fingers two and three. Finally, they took tissue from her abdomen and sculpted a pinky.
"I know the willpower that I have, so it's interesting for me to see what I can do with this now," she said, looking at her still-bandaged hand.
She must continue to wear the bandage to prevent infection, keep it warm, and protect it, even though her surgery was a month ago. There's still the possibility her body will reject her new fingers.
"Tendons could not connect, blood vessels could just stop flowing there," she said of the possibilities.
She will endure weeks of bed rest, which is tough for a college student and waitress who's used to being on the go. But her mom Denise keeps her company.
"I cried a couple of days because I was so upset I was stuck in the hospital," Rachael said with a giggle.
Rachael will undergo two more surgeries. And she may finally prove wrong the doctor who told her at 14 that she would never have fingers.
"I still have the hope and tingly feeling that it is going to happen," she said. 'When I was little, my family said when I get married, if I don't have a wedding ring finger on my left hand, everyone is going to switch over their rings to their right hand."
Assuming the surgeries work, she will still have months of physical therapy. After spending 16 days in the hospital in February, she hopes her next two surgeries won't break any records.
For more about Rachael's progress, visit https://www.gofundme.com/HelpRachaelGetFingers-com.