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Video Librarian
Health and Medicine • Physical + Occupational Therapy
Social Work • Disability Studies • LGBTQ Studies 
2017. Director Robin Berghaus.
72 Minutes. In English with English Subtitles. Includes Captions.

Will Lautzenheiser was chasing the loves of his life. A year into a promising relationship, he landed a dream job teaching film. Suddenly it was all interrupted by a persistent pain that, unbeknownst to him, was being caused by a deadly infection. When Will’s organs started shutting down, and his limbs began dying, doctors had to amputate both his arms and legs to save his life. Will’s world, as he knew it, would never be the same. As Will tries to accept his new life, news breaks about an experimental surgery that offers him new hope to reclaim his independence. 


Putting his life and health on the line, Will risks it all to become the third patient to undergo a double-arm transplantation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The documentary STUMPED chronicles how he copes with the loss of his filmmaking career by pursuing stand-up comedy; navigates an evolving relationship with his partner Angel, who becomes Will’s lover and caregiver; and gradually transforms, physically and spiritually, with newly transplanted arms. Filmed over four years, STUMPED explores themes of adversity, courage, as well as the life-changing potential of pioneering medicine.


An extraordinary journey through tragedy, comedy and restoration 


Watch the Trailer
Reviews & Quotes
★★★ Recommended Video Librarian

"By finding humor in tragedy and through the open discussion of amputation, organ donors, and transplants, Will’s story raises awareness of the multitude of issues and emotions surrounding disabilities. This well-crafted film is recommended for disabilities studies programs as well as general audiences."

STUMPED is an award-winning documentary that tells the incredible story of quadruple amputee, Will Lautzenheiser, whose humility and courage will inspire us all. This deeply human story is made even more compelling and amplified because his journey includes a double-arm transplant. STUMPED is a superbly crafted film that highlights a myriad of profound patient-centered, and system-wide issues that to one level or another touch anyone experiencing the health system. Among many themes, Will’s story illuminates the altruism and ethics of transplantation, the compassion and humanity of donor families, and the questions that arise around pursuing new therapies at the frontiers of modern medicine, all of which have enlightened much of my personal growth throughout my career.


Learners in any field, even those from outside health professions, will glean valuable lessons from this film that, because of Will’s humanity, will stick with the audience and, ultimately I believe, make us all better humans. The interprofessional functioning of the teams that help Will through his care, the elements at home that have as much or more to do with his progress towards better health than the care teams, and especially, the person-centered approach that the film’s producers have taken, provide deeply impactful, broad learning opportunities.”

Helen Nelson, Senior Vice President, Organ Donation Services

“Both funny and emotional, STUMPED is an authentic testimonial to the life changing gift of donation. The film gets real, telling the honest story of Will’s struggles, support systems and victories through the process of a remarkable double arm transplant surgery. I would highly recommend this beautiful film about the miracle of modern medicine and the strength of the human spirit that all students and professionals would benefit from viewing.”

“Robin Berghaus’s inspiring, heartbreaking, and sometimes hilarious STUMPED...takes up the traumatic tale of filmmaker and teacher William Lautzenheiser, who was just beginning his career when all his limbs were amputated to save his life from a rare infection. Lautzenheiser’s response? Stand-up (yes, he makes a joke about that) comedy. … After he agrees to undergo revolutionary double-arm transplantation surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the doubts and ordeal put his sense of humor to the test.”

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