News Releases

News Releases

Louisville Team Performs Another Hand Transplant with New Leaders

For Immediate Release: 7/11/2011

Louisville, Kentucky –Joseph Kutz, M.D., led a team of hand surgeons to perform the eighth hand transplant by the Louisville team in a 14 ½ hour procedure at Jewish Hospital on Sunday, July 10, 2011. Indiana resident Donnie Rickelman is the hand transplant recipient and is recovering at the hospital.

A media briefing is planned for Tuesday, July 12 at 10 a.m. at the Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Center, Hank Wagner Conference Center, 201 Abraham Flexner Way, Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Kutz, partner with Kleinert Kutz & Associates, was appointed co-investigator for the innovative procedure after the departure of Warren Breidenbach, M.D., earlier this year. Michael Marvin, M.D., director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital and professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville is the principle investigator.

The Linton, Indiana resident, 36-year-old Rickelman, injured both hands in a factory accident on March 9, 1998 when they were caught in a steel splitter machine. His right dominate hand was crushed and left hand partially amputated below the wrist. This left him with a partial thumb and good wrist movement on the left hand. He was independent in his activities of daily living, but struggled with these functions.

Dr. Kutz said, “Donnie will be in the intensive care unit for a couple of days, but is doing well. It took a little longer to do the surgery yesterday because we connected more veins, vessels and tendons. This will allow him to begin hand therapy a little earlier. We also wanted to save some of the nerves that remained in his partial fingers following his accident.”

“I want to first thank the donor family,” said Dr. Marvin. “Without them, this could not have been possible. Next, thanks to the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization and their work with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. While IOPO worked with a family to bring us a hand for Donnie, KODA brought us an organ from another donor as well. While the hand transplant took place, I worked with our organ transplant team to give an extended life to someone who needed a new liver. Our hearts go out to both donor families.”

Marty Bonick, president/CEO of Jewish Hospital said, “Dr. Kutz put together an outstanding team of expert hand surgeons to carry out the procedure. It is the partnership’s capability to provide such large teams that enable this to be so successful here in Louisville. Sixteen hand surgeons made up the hand transplant team from Kleinert Kutz, Christine M. Kleinert Institute and University of Louisville. We also had an anesthesia team of two as well.”

The patient’s immune system will be suppressed with a combination of drugs. Jewish Hospital/University of Louisville will closely monitor the patient for signs of rejection and adverse reaction to medications with lab tests and biopsies. Marvin said, “There is not a firmly established regiment to prevent rejection in hand transplant patients, therefore, we are basing in large part, our combination of drugs on the established experience in solid organ transplantation such as liver, kidney and pancreas.”

The Composite Tissue Allotransplantation program is a partnership of physicians, researchers and healthcare providers at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, Kleinert Kutz and Associates, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute and the University of Louisville. The group developed the pioneering hand transplant procedure and has performed seven other hand transplants since 1999. Indiana Organ Procurement Organization in coordination with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates arranged the hand donation for the team’s hand transplant procedure.

The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the composite tissue allotransplantation program.

Patient and physician information are available at and B-roll will be available at the news briefing on Tuesday.

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