By Maggie Newland | November 23, 2020 at 12:09 PM EST – Updated November 23 at 12:09 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The holidays will be difficult for family and friends of Deb Kelly.
Two years ago, on Thanksgiving day, she became the first person in North Carolina to receive a double hand transplant.
The 14-hour-surgery, at Duke, made history in our state, but what struck people who knew Kelly was her incredible attitude. Despite everything she went through, she was ready to take on every challenge, with a sense of hope and determination.
Kelly’s sister tells CBS 17, that Kelly passed away after a brief and sudden illness. Kelly, who lived in Youngsville, did not have COVID-19.
Although her death is devastating to everyone who knew her, what doctors learned from the transplant, which was part of a clinical trial, could help other people in similar situations for years to come.
Kelly’s perseverance and her smile have already inspired so many.
Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.