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News Releases

Region’s First Double Hand Transplant Patient’s Departure from Louisville Delayed

For Immediate Release: 12/21/2010

Patient hopes to be home for the New Year

Louisville, Kentucky – Despite set backs and another surgery, Dr. Richard “Rich” Edwards, the nation’s third double hand transplant recipient, continues to progress under the care of Kleinert Kutz and Associates hand surgeons at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky. 

Dr. Edwards was taken back to surgery to remove dead tissue from his pinkie and thumb on his right hand today.  The dead tissue was caused by complications he experienced in early September and mid-November when he loss blood flood to the two digits.  Doctors reported earlier that the tissue may need to be removed.

Dr. Warren Breidenbach, partner at Kleinert Kutz  and Associates and assistant clinical professor of surgery at the University of Louisville said, “The left hand continues to have great circulation and good function.”

Breidenbach has called the right hand the “miracle hand,” explaining, “after losing blood flow in the right hand in September, it re-established blood flow and it is unbelievable how wonderful it is doing.  I have never seen a hand loose blood flow and re-establish it before in my 26 years as a hand surgeon. This is truly one for the records.  The right hand function has nearly caught up with the left hand.”

Dr. Edwards remains in Louisville this week and will leave for Paducah on Friday to spend the Christmas holiday with his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.  Then it is back to Louisville to be closely monitored for another week by the team at Kleinert Kutz and the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery.  If all goes well, he will be back in Edmond, Oklahoma for the New Year.

Dr. Edwards continues therapy on his hands five-days-a-week with the therapists at the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for four-hours-a-day. His wife, Cindy Edwards, assists him with additional therapy on his own several times each day, seven-days-a-week. His hands have already helped him regain independence in his daily activities.  He can brush his teeth, comb his hair, take his shirt on and off and feed himself throughout an entire meal – all activities that he was unable to do unaided before the transplant. 

Dr. Edwards worked as a chiropractor before losing both hands when his truck caught fire on February 11, 2006.  Unable to escape the burning vehicle, he was severely burned on his face, back, arms and hands, leaving very little tissue in both hands. 

Dr. Breidenbach led the team of surgeons from Kleinert Kutz, Christine M. Kleinert Institute and the University of Louisville who performed the initial 17 ½ hour surgical procedure August 24-25, 2010, at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center.  He continues to manage Dr. Edwards’ follow-up care.

The Composite Tissue Allotransplantation program is a partnership of physicians, researchers and healthcare providers at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, Kleinert Kutz and Associates, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute and the University of Louisville. The group developed the pioneering hand transplant procedure and has performed five other hand transplants since 1999.  Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates coordinated the hand donation for the team’s hand transplant procedures.

The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the composite tissue allotransplantation program.

Patient and physician information, photography and video are available at and  


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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