News Releases

News Releases

Hand Transplant Recipient Continues Progress Gaining Hand Function

For Immediate Release: 3/9/2001

LOUISVILLE, KY – The nation's second hand transplant recipient, Jerry Fisher, continues to progress to gain function in his new left hand according to his doctors, lead hand surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert, Kutz & Associates Hand Care Center, and lead transplant surgeon Darla K. Granger, M.D., University of Louisville.

Fisher, a 36-year-old father of three from Jackson, Michigan, underwent the 13-hour innovative transplant procedure at Jewish Hospital February 16-17. The surgical team included 18 hand surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC and the University of Louisville, as well as, a five-member team from Anesthesiology Associates.

In discussing Fisher's progress, Dr. Breidenbach said, “He continues to remain on course gaining more movement in the hand and the skin, muscles and tendons are healing well. Jerry is doing more wrist motions and more repetitions in the movement of his new hand during therapy sessions.”

Kleinert, Kutz and Associates' physical therapists Laurie Newsome, who administers hand therapy to Fisher two hours a day, six days a week says, “Jerry's enthusiasm and cooperation during therapy sessions makes him an easy patient to work with. He is a very motivated individual.” The therapy sessions include various movements of the fingers, thumb, wrist, and arm. Newsome continues to hold the fingers during some exercises to protect the healing process of tissues. “Part of Jerry's new therapy activities include placing the arm in a position to make the muscles work harder such as placing the arm in a position to make the wrist move against gravity,” says Newsome. “We also massage the arm and hand to control swelling and to prevent adherence in the healing muscles and tendons.”

“Jerry will be placed in a new brace along with the removal of the elbow brace around mid March," says JoAnne Keller, Fisher's occupational therapist. “Jerry's new hand will be placed in a ‘hand based anti-claw' brace. We will be alternating between the two braces for a time.” The anti-claw brace is to prevent the contracture of the fingers into a poor position.

According to Dr. Granger, “Jerry's latest biopsy shows no sign of rejection and he will continue to be monitored and biopsies of the hand will be taken on a regular basis.” Fisher will reside near the Jewish Hospital Medical Campus for the next three months to be monitored and to continue his hand therapy sessions. The VNA Home Care Network provides nursing and personal care during his stay in Louisville. The nursing care includes infusion therapy and dressing changes. VNA Home Infusion provides infusion medications and supplies.

His family is remaining in Michigan during the rehabilitative process, but will visit him often along with several close friends. His wife, Sonya, and sons – David, 11, Zachary, 6, and 4-month-old Nicholas – are expected to arrive in Louisville to visit again this weekend.

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