News Releases

News Releases

Louisville Hand Transplant Program Celebrates 15th Anniversary of World’s Most Successful Hand Transplant

For Immediate Release: 3/20/2014

Louisville, Ky. (March 20, 2014)—The Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) program, a partnership of physicians, researchers and healthcare providers from Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health; the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery (CMKI); the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center; and the University of Louisville, marked the 15th anniversary of its first and the world’s most successful hand transplant today.


Matt Scott, a New Jersey native, became the first patient to undergo a hand transplant at Jewish Hospital in 1999. Scott lost his dominant left hand on December 23, 1985 in a blast from an M80 firecracker. He has remarkable function in his transplanted hand, which he uses for everyday living activities. He is the director of the EMT and paramedic school operated by Virtua Health.


“The last 15 years have been nothing short of spectacular,” said Scott. “In that time, life goes on. I’m doing everything with much more mobility and ability and I’m taking on things I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do again. Things are exactly as I’d hoped, my team put me back together and put me back on track.”


The success of Scott’s transplant has impacted the future of both transplantation and reconstructive surgery around the world. Since his procedure, the Louisville VCA program has performed eight more hand transplants on seven patients, including a double hand transplant in 2010. Donnie Rickelman, Louisville program’s seventh hand transplant recipient, joined Scott at a celebration marking the milestone.


“We are very pleased with Scott and the good attention to his transplant,” said Dr. Joseph Kutz, MD, primary investigator and partner with Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center. “He has proven to the world that transplantation can be successful and allow people to get back to their normal activities.”


“It’s an ongoing effort by everyone involved to make sure these patients, like Matt Scott, do well physically, but also mentally,” said Michael Marvin, M.D., transplant surgeon, Jewish Hospital/University of Louisville. “But we wouldn’t be here today without the generosity of organ donors and donor families who make the decision to choose organ donation to save and enhance the lives of others.”


“I’m struck by the awe and wonder that such an amazing procedure can take place. This success story is a wonderful example of how creative ideas, commitment and courage come together to make amazing things happen. The pioneers and partners here in Louisville have had an impact worldwide,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., Dean, University of Louisville School of Medicine.


The success of the Louisville VCA program is promising and has lead to additional funding for ongoing transplantation and research. Early funding for research on composite tissue allotransplantation and immunotherapy from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, also part of KentuckyOne Health, helped to bring about the nation’s first hand transplant. Other hand transplants were funded by the Department of Defense.  In late 2012, the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation allocated $1.5 million for the Louisville VCA program to be used specifically to bring potential hand transplant recipients to Louisville for screening, performance of the hand transplantation surgery and patient therapy and rehabilitation after surgery.


In 2013, the Louisville VCA program was awarded $850,000 to fund a clinical trial of a new treatment that will help prevent rejection of hand transplants as part of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) research program. AFIRM II is a five-year, $75 million federally funded project that will focus on applying regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries.


The clinical trial will be led by primary investigator Dr. Kutz and will take place at Jewish Hospital and Kleinert Kutz with research taking place at the CMKI and the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership of Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville.


The AFIRM II funding will enable Louisville VCA researchers to explore the potential for a cell-based therapy to improve the immune system’s response to a hand transplant, and ultimately lessen or eliminate the need for immune-suppressant drugs. Results of this trial will be far-reaching and benefit not only military patients, but all hand transplant recipients.


Photos and b-roll of all eight patient hand transplants including Matt Scott’s can be found 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, home care, rehab medicine (including 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.





Go Back To The List of All News Stories

For More Information...
Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager

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