News Releases

News Releases

Physician and hand transplant recipients pleased with results

For Immediate Release: 2/22/2002

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Matthew Scott, the world's first successful hand transplant recipient, and Jerry Fisher, the nation's second recipient, today provided a glimpse of how the hand transplant procedure has changed their lives. Appearing confident and happy, the two men answered media questions at a Jewish Hospital press briefing. Scott and Fisher were joined by lead hand surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, PLLC, lead transplant surgeon Darla K. Granger, M.D., University of Louisville, and physical therapist Laurie Newsome, also with Kleinert, Kutz and Associates.

“My transplanted hand is such a natural part of my every day life,” says Scott. “I still look at it sometimes and wonder how fabulous it is. The hands are the eyes and window to your soul.”

“I am as pleased as I can possibly be,” said Fisher. “ I have come full circle and the rewards are phenomenal. It is very easy for me to forget the time when I did not have a left hand. I am able to do more than I ever could with a hook.”

The only two people in the United States to receive a hand transplant are in Louisville for their yearly check-ups. Scott received his transplanted hand on January 24, 1999 and Fisher received his new hand on February 16, 2001. Each was scheduled for a two-day round of tests and evaluations with a number of physicians and clinicians. Their wives, Dawn Scott and Sonya Fisher accompanied them.

In discussing Scott and Fisher's progress, Dr. Breidenbach said, “both have done excellent and have achieved great results. I am impressed with the speed of how Matt can use his hand in grasping and turning objects.” Matt continues hand therapy in New Jersey once a week.

“Jerry has tremendous dexterity, which he has demonstrated by being able to tie his shoe, which is an extremely complex task. He also has tremendous ability in being able to pinch and move objects. Fisher is now able to lift 50 pounds with both hands and sensation is gradually advancing further down into the palm,” said Dr. Breidenbach. Fisher continues therapy sessions near his hometown of Jackson, Michigan two days a week.

According to Dr. Granger, “Both patients received biopsies today and while results are not yet back, their hands show no visual sign of rejection and look very nice. That's the benefit we have with external organs. Matt has only had three rejection episodes in the first six months, which were expected. He has not had a rejection episode for the past 30 months which is excellent. Jerry continues to have mild rejection episodes, but at the same time continues to improve his function. The rejection is controlled by medication.”

Hand Transplant Program

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. Scott and Fisher's hand transplants are two of the fourteen hands transplanted around the world. Warren C. Breidenbach, III, M.D. performed both hand transplants. The pioneering procedure is expected to greatly impact the future of transplantation and reconstructive surgery. Together, the partnership has supported the research initiatives of this innovative procedure along with other procedures to improve the quality of life for patients.

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

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