News Releases

News Releases

U.S. Hand Transplant Recipient Marks 10-Year Anniversary at Jewish Hospital

For Immediate Release: 2/23/2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (February 22, 2010)—Jerry Fisher, the nation’s second hand transplant recipient, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his hand transplant procedure today with team members from Jewish Hospital, Kleinert Kutz and Associates, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery and University of Louisville.

Fisher’s hand transplant took place on February 16-17, 2001 during a 13-hour surgical procedure, which involved a 17-member hand surgical team and 5-member anesthesiology team. The Jackson, Michigan native underwent amputation of his left hand at the wrist as a result of a fireworks accident on July 6, 1996. Today, as a result of the transplant, he is independent in his activities of daily living. Before the hand transplant, he used a cable hook prosthesis.

“I can’t emphasize enough the courage that it took for Mr. Fisher to be a pioneer,” said lead hand transplant surgeon Dr. Warren Breidenbach.“He had some setbacks, but now he is 10 years out and doing well.I applaud him and I thank him.”

“After the transplant, the hand never felt strange to me.I felt like a normal two-handed person,” said Fisher. “Now that it has been 10 years, I plan on having it for the rest of my life. When I stop to think about what had to happen to get me to this point, I am reminded that it was a huge undertaking, and I am very grateful.”

Fisher was joined by fellow hand transplant recipients Matt Scott, the world’s most successful hand transplant recipient and nation’s first hand transplant recipient, and Dr. Rich Edwards, the region’s first double hand transplant recipient, at Jewish Hospital for the festivities. It was the first time the three recipients were gathered together to share stories of their common experience. 

Scott lost his dominant left hand on December 23, 1985 in a blast from an M80 firecracker. He became the nation’s first hand transplant recipient on January 24, 1999 and has since been considered the world’s most successful hand transplant recipient.

“Once I found out about the hand transplant program, I was determined to try,” said Scott. “I’m happy to see this program be successful. This is certainly what I hoped for. Now that there are other recipients, I don’t feel like I’m alone. There is someone else out there that knows what I know and feels what I feel.”

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. His 17 ½ hour transplant procedure took place on August 24-25, 2010, at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center.

“All of the concerns that the previous recipients talked about somewhat scared me in the beginning,” said Dr. Edwards.  But when I thought about all the recipients before me and how they were living and enjoying life, I thought, ‘I want to enjoy life again.’ This transplant has changed my quality of life so much. I am grateful to be among the chosen few.

“We are very fortunate to have the best and most experienced team performing hand transplants at Jewish Hospital,” said Brian Doheny, chief operating officer, Jewish Hospital Medical Campus. “We are also grateful for the gifts of the donor families.  Without their generosity and the assistance of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, these transplants would not be possible.”

The Composite Tissue Allotransplantation program is a partnership of physicians, researchers and healthcare providers at the Jewish Hospital, 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 seven hand transplants on six patients since 1999.  Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates coordinated the hand donations for the hand transplant procedures.

“Hand transplants are just one of the many things that we’ve been able to do over the years,” said Dr. Joseph Kutz, hand surgeon, Kleinert Kutz and Associates. “It’s been a great satisfaction to see this program go well. We are very grateful for the Christine M. Kleinert Institute and its work training more than 1,200 surgeons in 89 countries around the world.”

The hand transplant program 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 www.handtransplant.com and http://www.jhsmh.org/

Matt Scott, Jerry Fisher and Rich Edwards. All 3 men are recipients of Hand Transplants at Jewish Hospital

Left to Right:
Matt Scott, Jerry Fisher and Rich Edwards
(click for print ready version)
 
 

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Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager
502-587-4230
 

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