News Releases

News Releases


For Immediate Release: 3/15/2007

LOUISVILLE, KY – David F. Savage, the third person in the United States to receive a human hand transplant, will return home to Bay City, Michigan this weekend.  The 54-year-old man has been in Louisville for a little more than three months for intensive hand therapy following the innovative procedure performed November 29, 2006 at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center by surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and University of Louisville.
Savage said, “I am really looking forward to going home to be with my family and friends. My youngest son is in a basketball tournament and I am looking forward to cheering him on with a two-handed clap.”  Savage’s family includes his wife, Karen, along with four children and nine grandchildren.
 “I am extremely pleased with Dave’s progress,” said Warren Breidenbach, lead hand transplant surgeon with Kleinert, Kutz.  “His function continues to improve; he has great pinch and grip strength, and is ahead of the schedule we anticipated. Dave will move on from here and return home to resume a normal life while continuing his hand therapy sessions in Michigan.” 
Hand therapist Laurie Newsome says Savage continues to perform tasks at a faster pace and with more accuracy, as time has progressed over the past three months.  Dave will continue to work on his range of motion and strength in his arm and hand,” said Newsome.  “He can now use his hand to hold, drink and pour from a glass or cup and enjoys using his transplanted hand to drink a cup of coffee. He uses his new hand to assist with zipping a coat jacket and tying his shoes.  Dave can also throw and catch a small-sized football, pick up small objects such as checkers and marbles.  He can even lift and carry a 25-pound crate with both hands.” 
Savage will take immunosuppressive (anti-rejection) medications for the life of his new hand which will be managed by Kadiyala V. Ravindra, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Louisville. Dr. Ravindra said, “Dave has experienced a few mild rejection episodes which have been managed with topical and oral medications.  Since rejection episodes are to be expected, they usually do not require hospitalization and do not hinder function in the hand.  I believe he will be fine at home as we will have biopsies performed in his home town. He will return to Louisville at a later time for additional testing.” 
Savage, a Means Industries production supervisor, injured his dominant right hand more than 32 years ago in a work-related machine press accident.  He plans to return to work in May. 

A partnership of physicians and researchers at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, the University of Louisville and Kleinert Kutz developed the composite tissue allotransplantation program.  The pioneering hand transplant procedure has greatly impacted the future of transplantation and reconstructive surgery. In October 2004, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) announced a $2.5 million contract award from the Department of the Navy to Jewish Hospital,
U of L and Kleinert Kutz for further research into the composite tissue allotransplantation program. The group of surgeons also performed the world’s first successful hand transplant in 1999 and the nation’s second in 2001.

Information, photography, and streaming video relating to the hand transplant are available on our web site at or


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Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager

Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare Kleinert Institute Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center University of Louisville School of Medicine