News Releases

News Releases

Hand Transplant Recipients Continue to Gain New Function

For Immediate Release: 2/18/2003

LOUISVILLE, KY – Matthew Scott, the world's first successful hand transplant recipient, and Jerry Fisher, the nation's second recipient, provided a glimpse of how the hand transplant procedure has changed their lives at a press briefing on Friday, February 14 at Jewish Hospital. Appearing confident and happy, the two men answered media questions. Scott and Fisher were joined by lead hand surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC, lead transplant surgeon Frederick R. Bentley, University of Louisville, and Jewish Hospital transplant psychiatrist Martin M. Klapheke.

“I feel fantastic,” said Scott. “I am four years out from the surgery and still gaining function.” Scott, a 41-year-old New Jersey native, received his hand transplant in January 1999. He is able to perform everyday living activities including dialing a telephone, tying his shoes and opening doors along with picking up small fine objects. Scott enjoys plays catch with his sons Jeremy and Ian and holding his wife, Dawn's, hand.

Fisher, a 38-year-old Michigan native, who received his hand transplant in February 2001, was thrilled to hear that Scott was still gaining function in his transplanted hand. “If he is still gaining function, that is good news for me,” said Fisher. “I am very excited about my check-up results. It can't get any better than that. With function, I shoot for the moon. I have much better speed in doing things with two hands and can catch things before they fall,” said Fisher. He uses his transplanted hand for daily use and function such as turning pages of a newspaper, opening cabinet doors and is able to carry 20 pounds with his transplanted hand. Fisher is married and has three boys -- wife, Sonya and sons, David, Zachary, and Nicholas.

“We feel very confident about their check-ups,” said Dr. Breidenbach. “Matt's additional function is coming back later than I thought it would be capable of coming back. We are thrilled with both Matt and Jerry's results as they both continue to gain function.

Both Matt and Jerry said taking immunosuppressive medications are a routine part of their daily life and they have not presented any problems. “The good news is there is no new news,” said Dr. Bentley. “Matt has only had three rejection episodes in the first six months, which were expected. He has not had a rejection episode for the past three and a half years which is excellent. Jerry continues to have mild rejection episodes which are controlled by medication. Both remain on chronic immunosuppresive drugs with only minor side effects and we can adjust their medications as needed.” Both recipients have been taking anti-rejection medications since they received the hand transplants and will need to continue for the life of the hand.

Hand Transplant Program

The hand transplant program was developed by a partnership of physicians and researchers at Jewish Hospital, the University of Louisville, and Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center. Scott and Fisher's hand transplants are two of the twenty hand transplants on sixteen patients around the world including France, Brussels, Italy, Austria and China. Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D. performed both Scott and Fisher's hand transplants. The pioneering procedure is expected to greatly impact the future of transplantation and reconstructive surgery. Together, the partnership has supported the research initiatives of this innovative procedure along with other procedures to improve the quality of life for patients.

Information, photography, and streaming video relating to the hand transplant are available on our web site at or


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