About the Film

Will Lautzenheiser at physical therapy. Photo by Asia Kepka

Will Lautzenheiser at physical therapy. Photo by Asia Kepka

In 2011, Will Lautzenheiser was chasing his dream. He moved from Boston to teach film classes at Montana State University. After his first two classes, Will visited the hospital. He had no idea that what felt like a painful muscle pull was actually a life-threatening bacterial infection. When Will’s organs started shutting down, and his limbs began dying, doctors amputated his arms and legs to save his life.

Will’s world, as he knew it, would never be the same.

STUMPED began as a short documentary about Will’s rehab as a quadrilateral amputee and how he coped with tragedy through stand-up comedy. The feature documentary continues chronicling Will’s journey through comedy as well as life-changing experimental medicine.

In late 2014, Will risked his life as the third patient to undergo a double-arm transplantation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The hospital has pioneered the field since 1954, when surgeons there performed the world’s first successful human organ transplant. The Brigham is still pushing the boundaries of medicine, having performed the nation’s first full-face transplant.

LEFT: Will as a funky pirate. Photo by Asia Kepka RIGHT: The Brigham and Women's Hospital surgical team after completing the hospital's first double-hand transplant in 2011. Photo courtesy of Brigham and Women's Hospital

LEFT: Will as a funky pirate. Photo by Asia Kepka RIGHT: The Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgical team after completing the hospital’s first double-hand transplant in 2011. Photo courtesy of Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Since Will’s surgery, he has wiggled his fingers, felt the wind on his arms, and embraced his partner Angel. Today, Will has new hope for a promising future in which he can gradually reclaim his independence and return to filmmaking and teaching.

Within this medical drama is a deeply personal story in which Will, with the support of Angel, his family and a world-class medical team, redefines his identity and forges a new path. STUMPED explores themes of adversity, creative courage, as well as the life-changing potential of pioneering medicine.

At a Brigham and Women's Hospital press conference after Will Lautzenheiser's double-arm transplantation,Will hugged his partner Angel Gonzalez with his new arms. Photo by Cydney Scott for BU Today

At a Brigham and Women’s Hospital press conference after Will Lautzenheiser’s double-arm transplantation,
Will hugged his partner Angel Gonzalez with his new arms. Photo by Cydney Scott for BU Today.