News Releases

News Releases

Fourth Hand Transplant Recipient Heads Home to California

For Immediate Release: 10/15/2008

LOUISVILLE, KY – Dave Robert Armstrong, the nation's fourth hand transplant recipient headed home yesterday (Oct. 14) to Upland, California, after a three month stay in Louisville. Armstrong received a new right hand during a 14-hour surgical procedure performed by Kleinert, Kutz & Associates and University of Louisville hand surgeons on July 12, 2008 at Jewish Hospital.

“I just want to thank the donor family,” says Armstrong. “Without their kindness this would have never happened.  The miracle of everything working is awesome.”
 

Armstrong’s wife, Regina, and son, Christian, joined him in Louisville for his last week in town.  They all flew home together yesterday.

“Dave’s progress has continued to be better than our previous patients,” says lead hand transplant surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert Kutz & Associates. “He can make a full fist and pick up a 35-pound crate. I am very pleased with his outcome so far.” Breidenbach added, “I too would like to thank our community for their support of the hand transplant program, Kentuckiana Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) for being our partner in this program, and especially the donor family. They have given Dave an extraordinary gift of a new hand and we appreciate their special donation during a distressing time with the loss of a loved one.

Armstrong, an automotive manager, will continue to wear a brace on his new hand to allow the hand to completely heal and to control movement of the hand and fingers.  He will continue hand therapy in California.
 

“Weekly biopsies performed on Dave’s transplanted hand have shown no significant rejection,” says lead transplant surgeon Kadiyala Ravindra, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at University of Louisville. “This is the first time we have seen this.  The other three hand transplant patients performed here all had some type of rejection that required treatment within the first three months  Dave’s biopsy from last week showed a low grade rejection, which did not require treatment and cleared up on its own.”
Ravindra also commented, “The success of the hand transplant program is totally due to the selfless donation by the donor families and the efforts of KODA.  This one reason why we have been the only site in the U.S. performing hand transplants.”
 

The 18-member team that performed Armstrong’s hand transplant included surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates, the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, as well as a two-member team from Anesthesiology Associates and Medical Center Anesthetists. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hands for all four U.S. hand transplant recipients. The group of surgeons performing the innovative procedure also performed the world’s first successful hand transplant in 1999, the nation’s second in 2001 and the nation’s third in 2006. To date, there have been a total of 39 hands transplanted on 31 patients around the world. 

The fourth U.S. 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.

Information, high resolution photography and streaming video are available on our web site at www.handtransplant.com or www.jewishhospital.org. The photos and B-roll provide surgery footage, give a first glimpse of the patient's new hand, and a therapy session. B-roll is available upon request. Note - streaming video on the web is not broadcast quality.
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Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager
502-587-4230
 

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