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News Releases

Fourth Hand Transplant Recipient Continues To Show No Signs Of Rejection

For Immediate Release: 8/12/2008

LOUISVILLE, KY – Dave Robert Armstrong, the nation's fourth hand transplant recipient, continues to show no signs of rejection, just one month following the innovative procedure. The medical team representing the University of Louisville, Kleinert, Kutz & Associates and Jewish Hospital have performed weekly biopsies on Armstrong’s transplanted hand.

According to lead transplant surgeon Kadiyala Ravindra, M.D., “Dave’s biopsies have looked great showing no signs of rejection and the swelling of his new hand has gone down to normal size. The biopsy procedure consists of removing a very small piece of tissue from the back of the transplanted hand and the forearm. The Jewish Hospital pathology laboratory then analyzes the biopsy.  Nerve endings have not fully matured, so a local anesthetic is still not necessary.

“Dave is doing great and is on the lowest level of drugs than any of our four hand transplant recipients,” added Ravindra.  The team of physicians, continue to look for ways to reduce the risk of taking the immunosuppressive drugs to lower the risk of the experimental procedure.

“I miss my family and friends and I’m really getting home sick, but it is all worth it,” says Armstrong. “My new hand looks super.  It’s all good.  I am way ahead of schedule and I’m working really, really hard in my therapy sessions.

Armstrong continues to wear an orthotic brace on his new hand called the "Crane Outrigger." The brace allows his hand to continue to heal, yet control the movement of his hand and fingers during therapy.

Armstrong spends two hours a day in therapy sessions and then performs more therapy on his own time. Christine M. Kleinert Institute Physical Therapist Laurie Newsome, says “his hand and finger movement results are awesome. He has good elbow and wrist extension and form, with good gains in all range of motion.  He can now pick up light objects with brace on.”

Armstrong will remain in the Louisville area for another two months to be monitored and to continue his therapy sessions.

The 18-member team that performed Armstrong’s hand transplant included surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates, the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, as well as a two-member team from Anesthesiology Associates and Medical Center Anesthetists. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hands for both recipients. The group of surgeons performing the innovative procedure also performed the world’s first successful hand transplant in 1999, the nation’s second in 2001 and the nation’s third in 2006. To date, there have been a total of 39 hands transplanted on 31 patients around the world.


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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