News Releases

News Releases

Hand Transplant Recipient Begins Physical Therapy First Biopsy Shows No Rejection

For Immediate Release: 2/23/2001

LOUISVILLE, KY –Jerry Fisher, the nation's second hand transplant recipient, continued to show progress in a series of developments on Thursday. The medical team representing the University of Louisville, Kleinert, Kutz & Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC and Jewish Hospital spent several hours with Jerry, performing the first biopsy on the transplanted hand, outfitting him with a special orthotic device and beginning physical therapy.

According to Warren Breidenbach, M.D., lead hand surgeon and Darla Granger, M.D., lead transplant surgeon, the biopsy showed no signs of rejection. In performing the procedure, surgeons removed a very small piece of tissue from the back of Jerry's transplanted hand around the wrist area. The Jewish Hospital pathology laboratory then analyzed the biopsy. Since the procedure was only performed six days ago, the nerve endings have not fully matured. As a result, a local anesthetic was not necessary.

“We have been changing Jerry's bandages on a daily basis,” Breidenbach said. “In addition to allowing us to properly clean the hand, this also allows us to visually observe any changes that might be an indication of possible rejection.”

In addition to the biopsy, Jerry was also outfitted for the first time with an orthotic brace called the “Crane Outrigger.” The brace will allow his hand to continue to heal yet control the movement of his fingers during therapy.

Jerry spent almost an hour working for the first time with Joann Keller, an occupational therapist and Laurie Newsome, a physical therapist. Both are with Kleinert, Kutz & Associates. He will continue hand therapy two hours per day, six days a week.

“I'm very pleased with Jerry's status at this point,” said Keller. “It was evident from our first session that his attitude and whole approach to physical and occupational therapy will be beneficial. In these situations, the patient's drive and determination are major factors that affect the recovery period. From all indications, Jerry definitely is motivated.”

Over the weekend, Jerry is expected to continue his physical and occupational therapy sessions. On Monday, another routine biopsy is planned. Once he is discharged, he will be staying in the Louisville area for at least three months to continue his therapy sessions. Visiting Nurse Association will provide nursing and personal care during his stay in Louisville.

The 18-member transplant team included surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC, the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital, as well as a five-member team from Anesthesiology Associates. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hands for both recipients. The group of surgeons that performed the procedure also performed the nation's first hand transplant on Matthew Scott two years ago.

Scott continues to make progress. His transplant is now deemed the world's most successful hand transplant.

The next scheduled news conference will be Friday, March 2 at 3:00 p.m. (EST). Satellite coordinates will be provided by Thursday afternoon, March 1. Jerry Fisher will be present at the news conference and will be available to answer questions.

If any dramatic change occurs over the weekend, it will be communicated to you. We will look for an opportunity to do a local pool with Jerry the first part of next week.

Information, photography and streaming video are also available on our web site at www.handtransplant.com or www.jewishhospital.org. Images from the biopsy and therapy sessions are available on these websites.

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