News Releases

News Releases

Three Jewish Hospital Hand Transplant Recipients Return to Louisville for Evaluations

For Immediate Release: 10/21/2011

Louisville, Ky.—Three patients who received groundbreaking hand transplants at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky will return this month for regular evaluations with physicians and researchers from Kleinert Kutz & Associates.  The patients are:

Dave Savage, the hospital’s third hand transplant recipient, who received a transplanted right hand on November 29, 2006.  The Bay City, Michigan native was 54 at the time of his surgery.  He originally injured his dominant right hand in a work related machine press accident.

Erik Hondusky, of Massena, New York, became the hospital’s fifth hand transplant recipient on November 24, 2008. Hondusky was injured in a furnace accident on April 12, 2006 in which his right dominant hand was crushed and burned thus requiring amputation.

And the hospital’s seventh and most recent hand transplant recipient, Donnie Rickelman, who underwent surgery and returned home earlier this month. Rickelman received a new left hand in a 14½ hour procedure at Jewish Hospital on Sunday, July 10, 2011. Rickelman, a 36-year old Linton, Indiana resident, injured both hands in a factory accident on March 9, 1998 when they were caught in a steel-splitter machine. His dominant right hand was crushed and his left hand partially amputated below the wrist, leaving a partial thumb and limited wrist movement with the left hand.

“Regular visits and evaluations are part of our ongoing care for hand transplant recipients,” said Joseph Kutz, M.D. with Kleinert Kutz & Associates.  “What we learn from these visits helps inform our care for the current and future recipients of the program.”
“We have been very pleased with the health and success of these three hand transplant recipients to date,” said Michael Marvin, M.D., director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital, associate professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville.  “We continue to monitor all of our hand transplant patients on a regular basis in close collaboration with their hometown physicians, but see them here in Louisville for a full and complete check up and evaluation once a year.”
Both Savage and Hondusky will remain in Louisville October 24-26.  Rickelman will complete his evaluations on October 24.  While here, the patients will undergo blood tests, bone scan, EKG, ultrasound of hand and evaluation, nerve conduction study and other evaluations.

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 a total of eight hand transplants on seven patients since 1999. Indiana Organ Procurement Organization in coordination with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates arranged the hand donation for Rickelman’s hand transplant procedure.

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 are available at, including B-roll and photos.

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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