Emily Fennell of Yuba City, Calif., is one of 28 riders representing organ and tissue donors, transplant recipients and candidates on the transplant waiting list on the Donate Life float in Monday's parade.
"Now I'm so accustomed to my new right hand, I barely remember when I didn't have one," Fennell said in a statement.
Fennell, the 13th hand transplant recipient in the United States, lost her right hand after it was crushed in a rollover car accident in June 2006. After the amputation, occupational therapists helped her learn to use her left hand for all tasks, including tying her shoes, writing, dressing and even driving a car.
She tried a prosthetic hand and traditional 'hook' prosthesis but stopped using them because they didn't provide the functionality she desired, she said.
However, Fennell missed doing the "little things" that get taken for granted, such as putting her hair in a ponytail or cutting up a steak while dining at a restaurant. She researched hand transplantation and became excited about the possibilities a new hand could provide, including the potential to better care for her 6-year-old daughter.
Fennell's transplant at Ronald Reagan University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, was made possible by the generosity of the family of a deceased donor in the San Diego area, hospital officials said.