News Releases

News Releases


For Immediate Release: 1/23/2007

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY (January 23, 2007) – Matt Scott, the world’s first successful hand transplant recipient, will celebrate his eighth anniversary with his new left hand tomorrow, January 24. Scott became the nation’s first hand transplant recipient on January 24, 1999 when a 17-member surgical team from Kleinert Kutz and University of Louisville transplanted a donor hand during a 14 1/2-hour surgical procedure performed at Jewish Hospital.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Scott.  “My youngest son, who was two years old at the time of my transplant, does not remember me without my left hand.  His brother, marvels at the wonder of it.  The years I spent without a hand have become less prominent in my memory.” 

Scott says he has realized his goals and hopes for a day when composite tissue transplants are as common as a heart transplant. He also thanked the donor family and said, “I am forever in their debt.”

A New Jersey native, Scott is an instructor at Camden County College. He can use his transplanted hand for everyday living activities and experiences hot and cold sensation in the hand. He lost his dominant left hand on December 23, 1985, in a blast from an M80 firecracker accident.

Michigan native David Savage, who became the third person in the U.S. to receive a hand transplant at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, continues to gain strength in his new right hand while he is recuperating in Louisville.  Savage has therapy sessions three hours a day, five days a week at Kleinert Kutz.  He received a hand transplant on Nov. 29, 2006.  Savage lost his hand in an industrial accident more than 30 years ago.

“I try to do something new every day,” said Savage. “I can write my name and even wrote thank you cards after the holidays.

Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., who led the team of surgeons that performed the innovative surgery said, “Dave has a weak grip at this time, which is to be expected, but he is able to hit a nerf ball and open doors.  He continues to gain control picking up objects and handling smaller objects.”

Breidenbach added, “Dave is doing very well, which is very encouraging.  He no longer takes steroids and we continue to hope the new immunosuppressive protocol will allow him to stay off of them and avoid complications.”    Savage will continue to be monitored on a regular basis for signs of rejection with weekly biopsies, along with a number of other laboratory tests and evaluations as needed.

There have been a total of 35 hands transplanted on 29 patients around the world. 

Hand Transplant Program
The hand transplant program was developed by a partnership of physicians and researchers at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, the University of Louisville and Kleinert Kutz. A second hand transplant was performed by the team on Jerry Fisher, a Michigan native, on February 18, 2001. The Louisville team is the only group to perform hand transplants in the United States. The pioneering procedure has greatly impacted the future of transplantation and reconstructive surgery as surgeons and researchers look to other procedures to improve the quality of life for patients.  Kentuckiana Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) coordinated the donation of the hands for all three recipients.
Patient and physician information, photography and video are available on our web site at and  

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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