News Releases

News Releases


For Immediate Release: 12/6/2006

LOUISVILLE, KY – David F. Savage, a 54-year-old Bay City, Michigan resident, saw his new right hand for the first time on Friday, Dec. 1, when doctors removed a large mass of bandages.  Savage underwent a 15-hour hand transplant on Nov. 29, when a team of 34 surgeons from Kleinert Kutz and University of Louisville performed the innovative procedure at Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center.  The group of surgeons also performed the world’s first successful hand transplant in 1999 and another in 2001. 

As the hand was unwrapped, Savage, said he had forgotten how heavy a hand was compared to the cable hook prosthesis he had been wearing for more than 30 years following the loss of his hand in an industrial accident.  A man of few words, Savage said, “cool” seeing his hand for the first time.  His wife Karen whispered “very cool.”  Savage was also able to move his wrist and fingers. 

Following the removal of the bandages, lead hand surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach with Kleinert Kutz said, “The first 48 hours were crucial with this type of procedure.  The hand looks good.  We have a home run here.  To be moving his new hand this early, that is unbelievable.”


Breidenbach added, “The blood flow to the hand is great.  He has progressed well since the profusion of the hand.  The new right hand has a normal temperature range in each finger as compared to his left hand.” 

Therapy of the shoulder and elbow began immediately following the bandage change, along with rotation of the forearm and hand.


Doctors expect Savage to remain at Jewish Hospital for the rest of this week.  On Tuesday, December 05, an orthotist and hand therapist began bracing and hand therapy. He will continue to remain in the Louisville area for the next three months undergoing intensive therapy on a daily basis. 


Savage has been placed on Campath, a new immunosuppressive drug being used in hand transplantation for the first time in the U.S. and one of the first times in the world.  Campath may allow physicians the ability to reduce the amount of anti-rejection medications Savage will need to take.  Kadiyala V. Ravindra, M.D., assistant clinical professor of surgery at the University of Louisville, manages the immunosuppressive therapy for all the hand transplant patients Dr. Ravindra will continue to monitor the Savage on a regular basis for signs of rejection with weekly biopsies.  Savage will also be monitored with a number of other laboratory tests and evaluations as needed.


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. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates coordinated the donation of the hands for all three recipients.


For more information, photography and video streaming regarding the hand transplant, visit our web site at and   Be advised that video from the internet is not broadcast quality.




Lead hand surgeon Dr. Warren Breidenbach, (right) and Dr. Ruben Gonzalez (left) both with Kleinert K

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