News Releases

News Releases

Louisville Team Performs Hand Transplant on their Eighth Patient

For Immediate Release: 2/16/2012

Louisville, Kentucky – Joseph Kutz, M.D., led a team of 24 hand surgeons and 2 anesthesiologists to perform another hand transplant during a 15 ½ hour procedure at Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, which began on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 and ended this morning. This is the eighth patient for the Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team made up of surgeons and researchers from Jewish Hospital, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery, Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, and the University of Louisville.

A media briefing is planned to provide an update today, Thursday, February 16 at 3 p.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 Hand Care Center, director of the Kleinert Institute, and Michael Marvin, M.D., director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital and associate professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville are the co-investigators for the innovative procedure. Rosemary Ouseph, M.D., director of Clinical Transplantation and professor of Medicine for the University of Louisville, manages the patient’s immunosuppressive drug therapy, along with Dr. Marvin.

Ronald Thurman 
Ronald Thurman (High Res)

Marion, Indiana resident Ronald Thurman is the hand transplant recipient and is recovering at the hospital. Thurman, age 56, is a self-employed farmer. He injured his right hand in a farming accident in November 2003 when his hand was caught in a combine/auger.  His right hand was amputated at the wrist, nine inches below the elbow.

The Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team developed the pioneering hand transplant procedure and has been performing hand transplants since 1999, the longest in the United States.  LifeGift in Texas, in coordination with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, arranged the hand donation for the team’s eighth patient’s hand transplant procedure.

Other hand transplants performed by the Louisville Vascular Composite Allograft Program are:
Matthew Scott – January 24, 1999
Gerald Fisher – February 16, 2001
Dave Savage – November 29, 2006
Dave Armstrong – July 12, 2008
Jan (Erik) Hondusky – November 24, 2008
Richard Edwards – August 24, 2010 (double hand transplant)
Donnie Rickelman – July 10, 2011

Patient and physician information, photography and video are available at  

The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the Vascularized Composite Allograft Program.


About Jewish Hospital
Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, is an internationally renowned high-tech tertiary referral center developing leading-edge advancements in hand and microsurgery, heart and lung care, home care, rehab medicine (including sports medicine), orthopaedics, neuroscience, occupational health, organ transplantation and outpatient and primary care.  Site of the world’s first successful hand transplant, the world’s first and second successful AbioCor® Implantable Replacement Heart procedures, and world’s first trial of cardiac stem cells in chronic heart failure, the hospital is in the select group that performs heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation.

About the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery
Named in honor of Dr. Kleinert's mother, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery (CMKI) is a world-renowned nonprofit education and research organization funded by the Kleinert-Kutz Endowment for Education and Research in Hand and Micro Surgery. The physicians of the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center teach the next generation of hand surgeons through CMKI’s accredited fellowship program, which is cooperative effort with the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The Fellows are fully trained plastic, orthopedic, or general surgeons from around the world who come to Louisville to get additional training in hand and micro surgery. To date, more than 1,200 physicians from 58 countries have served as Fellows. Dozens of research projects refining surgical techniques, testing new devices and pushing the frontiers of basic and clinical science in the field of hand surgery are currently underway. CMKI also provides patient rehabilitation services after surgery and patients recovery services without surgery through the Hand Therapy Center and Orthotic Care Center. For more information, please visit

About the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center
Kleinert Kutz is one of the largest hand care programs in the world, pioneering achievements in hand and microsurgery, research, therapy and orthotics. The 13 physicians of Kleinert Kutz offer expertise in orthopedic and plastic surgery and provide comprehensive care for the hand and arm. Kleinert Kutz’s significant achievements include the nation’s first five hand transplants, one of the world’s first cross-hand replantations, pioneered work in primary reconstruction using free tissue transfer and national award for research in blood flow to the nerve.  For more information, please visit or call (502) 561-4263.

About the University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is Kentucky's metropolitan research university, with 22,000 students attending classes at 11 colleges and schools on three campuses. Bordered by its many medical partners, UofL's downtown Health Sciences Center is home to more than 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields with the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

About LifeGift
LifeGift is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to recovering organs and tissue for individuals needing transplants in 109 counties in North, Southeast and West Texas. Originally established in 1987 as Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization and later renamed, LifeGift is celebrating 25 years of saving and enhancing lives. It is one of the three OPOs in the state that operates and maintains the Donate Life Texas Registry. For more information about LifeGift, visit  For more information about Donate Life Texas, visit



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Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager

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