News Releases

News Releases

Hand Transplant Recipient Continues To Gain Function

For Immediate Release: 12/22/2008

Transplant Procedure Performed November 24 at Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center by Kleinert, Kutz and Associates and University of Louisville Surgeons

LOUISVILLE, KY – Jan “Erik” Hondusky, the nation's fifth hand transplant recipient, continues to show improvement in the use of his transplanted hand, one month after the innovative procedure by the medical team representing the University of Louisville, Kleinert, Kutz & Associates and Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center.

According to Kadiyala Ravindra, M.D., lead transplant surgeon, Hondusky continues to make good progress.  “He has had no deterioration, the hand has a good appearance and the function continues to improve,” states Ravindra.

Hondusky continues in therapy at the Kleinert Institute five days a week for three hours a day, working on mobility exercises both in and out of the brace.  In the upcoming days, Hondusky will be fitted for a newer, smaller brace as well.  According to therapist Laurie Newsome, “Erik continues to show an increase in endurance with exercises and an increase in mobility of his forearm and fingers with the therapy.”

To date, all previous hand transplant recipients have been on at least two immunosuppressive drugs, if not three.  Doctors are encouraged because, after one month, Honsuky continues to remain on only one.  According to lead hand surgeon, Warren Breidenbach, M.D., “Erik continues to make good progress and persists with monotherapy treatment.  If he is able to maintain this level of immunosuppressive drugs, it will greatly reduce the risks from immunosuppression.”

Hondusky, a Massena, NY resident, continues to recover in Louisville and is grateful for the gift of a new hand, expressing his thanks to the donor family.  “Christmas came early for me this year,” Hondusky said, adding that he wishes his wife, son and granddaughter a Merry Christmas back home and looks forward to seeing them soon.

Kleinert Kutz and University of Louisville hand surgeons performed the hand transplant on Hondusky at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center on November 24, 2008, during a record nine-hour surgical procedure.  Warren C. Breidenbach, III, M.D., with Kleinert Kutz and University of Louisville assistant clinical professor of surgery, led the team of five hand surgeons, 10 hand fellows and a two-member anesthesiology team from Hand Care Center Anesthesia. 

Hondusky, a 43-year-old production worker, injured his dominant right hand in a furnace accident on April 12, 2006, when his hand was crushed and burned thus requiring amputation.  He used a prosthetic hand to perform daily living activities before the transplant procedure. 

A hand transplant, unlike a solid organ transplant, involves multiple tissues (skin, muscle, tendon, bone, cartilage, fat, nerves and blood vessels) and is called composite tissue allotransplantation.

A partnership of physicians and researchers at Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, Kleinert Kutz and the University of Louisville developed the pioneering procedure.  Breidenbach and his team are the only surgeons to perform hand transplants in the U.S. To date, there have been a total of 40 hands transplanted on 32 patients around the world.

Information, photography and video are available on our web sites at and  Video on the website is not broadcast quality.


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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