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News Releases

Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program’s Seventh Hand Transplant Recipient Celebrates Second Anniversary

For Immediate Release: 7/10/2013


Louisville, Ky. (July 10, 2013)— Donnie Rickelman, the Linton, Indiana man who became the seventh recipient of a hand transplant at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, is celebrating the second anniversary of his procedure. 
Rickelman will celebrate by returning to Louisville for regular evaluations with physicians and researchers from the Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team at Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand & Microsurgery, Jewish Hospital and University of Louisville
“There is nothing I cannot do,” said Rickelman. “It is like I never lost a hand.  I’m learning to play golf and have been hitting balls at the driving range. I am able to do simple things everyday that I struggled to do after my accident like buttons, dressing myself and yard work.”
“Donnie’s progress continues to be impressive,” said Joseph Kutz, M.D., partner with Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, director of the Kleinert Institute and co-investigator for Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program. “He has been very committed to gaining function in his hand and following the advice of his medical team.” 
Kutz led a team of hand surgeons to perform Rickelman’s hand transplant in a 14 ½ hour procedure at Jewish Hospital on July 10, 2011.
“Donnie continues to do remarkably well and we are encouraged by his overall health,” said Michael Marvin, M.D., director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital, associate professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville and co-principal investigator of the Louisville VCA.  Marvin oversees Rickelman’s immunosuppressive drug therapy in collaboration with Rosemary Ouseph, M.D., division of Nephrology, University of Louisville Department of Medicine, by closely monitoring him for signs of rejection and adverse reaction to medications with lab tests and biopsies. 
“Donnie’s immunosuppressant medication therapy is ongoing,” said Dr. Ouseph.  “He is responding well and we continue to monitor him for any necessary changes.”
Rickelman, 36, injured both hands in a factory accident in 1998. His right hand was crushed and his left hand was partially amputated below the wrist. 
The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the Vascularized Composite Allograft Program.  More information about each patient, including photos and video, are available at

About Jewish Hospital
Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, is an internationally renowned high-tech tertiary referral center developing leading-edge advancements in hand and microsurgery, heart and lung care, cancer care, home care, rehab medicine, sports medicine, orthopaedics, neuroscience, occupational health, organ transplantation and outpatient and primary care.  Site of the world’s first successful hand transplant, the world’s first and second successful AbioCor® Implantable Replacement Heart procedures, and world’s first trial of cardiac stem cells in chronic heart failure, the hospital is in the select group that performs heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation.
About the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery
Named in honor of Dr. Kleinert's mother, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery (CMKI) is a world-renowned nonprofit education and research organization funded by the Kleinert-Kutz Endowment for Education and Research in Hand and Micro Surgery. The physicians of the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center teach the next generation of hand surgeons through CMKI’s accredited fellowship program, which is cooperative effort with the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The Fellows are fully trained plastic, orthopedic, or general surgeons from around the world who come to Louisville to get additional training in hand and micro surgery. To date, more than 1,274 physicians from 61 countries have served as Fellows. Dozens of research projects refining surgical techniques, testing new devices, and pushing the frontiers of basic and clinical science in the field of hand surgery are currently underway. CMKI also provides patient rehabilitation services after surgery and patient recovery services without surgery through the Hand Therapy Center and Orthotic Care Center. For more information, please visit or call 502.562.0310. 
About the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center
Kleinert Kutz is one of the largest hand care programs in the world, pioneering achievements in hand and microsurgery, research, therapy and orthotics. The 13 physicians of Kleinert Kutz offer expertise in orthopedic and plastic surgery and provide comprehensive care for the hand and arm. Kleinert Kutz’s significant achievements include the nation’s first five hand transplants, one of the world’s first cross-hand replantations, pioneered work in primary reconstruction using free tissue transfer and national award for research in blood flow to the nerve.  For more information, please visit or call 502.561.4263.
About the University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is Kentucky's metropolitan research university, with 22,000 students attending classes at 11 colleges and schools on three campuses. Bordered by its many medical partners, UofL's downtown Health Sciences Center is home to more than 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields with the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

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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