News Releases

News Releases

Hand Transplant Recipient Looking Forward to Being Home With Family

For Immediate Release: 5/17/2001

Transplant Procedure performed Feb. 16-17 at Jewish Hospital by Kleinert, Kutz and Associates and University of Louisville Surgeons

LOUISVILLE, KY – Jerry Fisher, the second person in the United States to receive a hand transplant, will return home to Jackson, Michigan, today. Fisher has been in Louisville for the past three months for intensive hand therapy following his experimental procedure performed February 16-17 at Jewish Hospital by surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC, and University of Louisville.

At a news conference today, Fisher said, “I am looking forward to just being at home to hold my baby boy and play with my sons. Fisher's family includes wife, Sonya, and three sons, David, age 11, Zachary, age six, and Nicholas, six months. He added, “I have a big yard. I plan on mowing the grass and returning to my business immediately, at least to doing the paper work.” A self-employed contractor, Fisher's company installs seamless gutters.

Fisher also bid farewell to Louisville and the members of the hand transplant team who have been involved in his care. He thanked the team for their level of care and professionalism and had no complaints. A smiling Fisher said, “The city has been great. I'll have a piece of Louisville in me for the rest of my life, besides the hand.”

“I am extremely pleased with Jerry's progress,” said Warren Breidenbach, lead hand transplant surgeon with Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center. “His function continues to improve, he has great pinch and grip strength, and is ahead of the schedule we anticipated. Jerry has graduated from here and will go back home to resume a normal life while continuing his hand therapy sessions at the University of Michigan.” Breidenbach went on to say, “Jerry is experiencing another rejection episode which is being managed with topical and oral medications. Since the rejection episode does not require hospitalization and does not hinder function in the hand, we feel he will be better off at home during this period of recovery. He will return to Louisville next month for additional testing.”

A mirror team has been set up at the University of Michigan with a primary care physician, hand surgeon, transplant surgeon and an occupational therapist. The mirror team will continue to monitor Fisher and report back to the Louisville hand transplant team on his progress. Fisher will participate in hand therapy sessions at the University of Michigan Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation two-days-a-week.

A video of Fisher was shown by hand therapist Laurie Newsome during the news conference demonstrating his ability to perform tasks at a faster pace and with more accuracy, as time progressed. Newsome said, “Jerry keeps adding tasks to his ‘can do' list that he couldn't do with a prosthesis. He can toss a ball, demonstrate good wrist motion to use a paddle ball, tie and untie his shoes and lift and carry a 35-pound crate.”

The transplant procedure performed Feb. 16-17 at Jewish Hospital included an 18-member hand transplant surgical team from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center and the University of Louisville as well as a five-member team from Anesthesiology Associates. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hand. The hand transplant program was developed by a partnership of physicians and researchers at Jewish Hospital, the University of Louisville, and Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center. Fisher's hand transplant is one of the ten hands on eight people transplanted around the world. The pioneering procedure is expected to greatly impact the future of transplantation and reconstructive surgery.

Information, photography, and streaming video relating to the hand transplant are available on our web site at www.handtransplant.com or www.jewishhospital.org.

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