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News Releases

World’s First Successful Hand Transplant Recipient Receives Six-Year Check Up

For Immediate Release: 2/15/2005

LOUISVILLE, KY – Matt Scott, the world’s first successful hand transplant recipient underwent evaluations on February 10-11 for his six-year check up with a number of physicians including lead hand surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, and lead transplant surgeon Frederick R. Bentley, M.D., University of Louisville. Dr. Breidenbach told Scott during his yearly exam, “You have the best functioning hand of all the recipients in the world.” Scott is one of the 18 patients around the world to receive a hand transplant, six of whom received double hand transplants. Scott became the nation’s first hand transplant recipient (now the world’s first successful) on January 24-25, 1999. He received his new left hand during a 14 ½-hour surgical procedure performed at Jewish Hospital by a 17-member surgical team from Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center and University of Louisville. Dr. Breidenbach said Scott has “a big improvement in his hand function and a stronger thumb since last year.” Scott attributes this to using it everyday. He can use his transplanted hand for everyday living activities including throwing and catching a ball, opening doors, turning doorknobs, drinking from a glass, dialing a cell phone, writing his name and tying his shoes. “His hand is pretty impressive in certain areas,” says Anne Hodges, hand therapist, Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, who performed his therapy evaluation. “He flies through many of his tests. His pinch and strength are better along with improvement in sensation.” Scott has hot and cold sensation in his hand along with being able to determine rough or smooth and sharp or blunt textures. Dr. Bentley stated, “Matt is doing very good, better than what I thought.” A biopsy was also performed on Scott during his checkup visit to monitor rejection. Dr. Bentley reported on Scott's biopsy results saying, "The biopsy showed no signs of rejection.” Scott had three mild rejection episodes within his first six months of the transplant, which were expected, all were resolved by medication. Scott takes immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection like that of a kidney transplant patient and will remain on the anti-rejection drugs for the life of the hand transplant. Dr. Bentley added, “A hand transplant is not a life saving surgical procedure, but rather a quality of life issue like that of many kidney transplant patients who undergo surgery to discontinue dialysis for a better quality of life.” Dr. Breidenbach encourages everyone to get the word out on the need for organ donation, not just for others who would like to have a hand transplant, but all organ donation needs. "A family's contribution of their loved one's organs could not only save the life of someone in need of a heart or liver, but improve the quality of life for others." Scott, a New Jersey native, age 43, is an instructor at Camden County College. He lost his dominant left hand on December 23, 1985 in a blast from an M80 firecracker accident. 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 Hand Care Center. 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 in the United States who have performed 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. More information is available on our web site at or -end-

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