News Releases

News Releases

Louisville Team Announces Nation's Second Hand Transplant

For Immediate Release: 2/17/2001

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - Jerry Fisher, a 36-year-old Jackson, Mich., resident, became the nation's second hand transplant recipient following a 13-hour procedure, February 16-17. A special news conference will be held at 2 p.m. (EST), Saturday, Feb. 17, to announce the completion of the landmark operation. The conference is scheduled in the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart and Lung Conference Center, 16th floor, 201 Abraham Flexner Way.

The news conference will be up-linked live via satellite and available for down link at coordinates Ku-Band SBS 6, Transponder 10, Vertical Frequency 11945 MHZ, 74 degrees West. The signal will be available from 2-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. The procedure, which began at approximately 8 p.m. (EST) Friday, Feb. 16, involved an 18-member hand surgical team and five-member Anesthesiology Associates team. The recipient is listed in stable condition at Jewish Hospital, based in the Louisville Medical Center. The group of surgeons performing the experimental procedure also performed the nation's first single hand transplant on Matthew Scott two years ago. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hands for both recipients.

A partnership of physicians and researchers at Jewish Hospital, Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC, and the University of Louisville developed the pioneering 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.

The surgical team was led by Warren C. Breidenbach, III, M.D., Kleinert, Kutz and Associates and assistant clinical professor of surgery at the University of Louisville. Darla K. Granger, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Louisville, is managing the immunosuppressive therapy for both hand transplant patients.

In 1996 Fisher, a self-employed contractor and father of three, underwent amputation of his non-dominant left hand at the wrist as a result of a fireworks accident involving a three-inch mortar. Prior to the transplant he used a cable hook prosthesis.

"The reconstruction on this patient went extremely well," Dr. Breidenbach said. "We encountered no unanticipated interoperative problems. The reconstruction was difficult at times because of the extent of damage to the patient's muscle as a result of his initial injury."

"We anticipate a good result," he added. "However, as with any operation of this complexity and investigative nature, the outcome cannot be predicted at this time. We will have a better idea of the long-term outcome in three to six months."

After surgery, Fisher was placed on a combination of immunosuppressive drugs at a reduced dosage to lower the risks associated with the anti-rejection medication. Those risks include a higher incidence of cancer, infections and other disorders. "Fisher is being monitored on a regular basis for signs of rejection and will have weekly biopsies. We will also be monitoring his progress with a number of other laboratory tests and evaluations," said Dr. Granger.

An orthotist and hand therapist will begin bracing and hand therapy within the next few days. Fisher will be hospitalized at Jewish Hospital for the next 7-10 days and then will remain in the Louisville area for three months.

Complete press packets including b-roll and still photography of the physicians and patient will be available to the media at the briefing. Information, photography and streaming video are also available on our web site at

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