Double Hand Transplant Completed at Jewish Hospital Hand Specialty Center

Rich Edwards, double hand transplant

Rich Edwards, double hand transplant

Surgeons from the University of Louisville and Kleinert Kutz and Associates performed a 17 and a half hour double hand transplant on a Oklahoma man. The procedure occurred during August 24 and 25 at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center. The patient’s family expressed gratitude to both the doctors and the family of the donor.

Dr. Richard Edwards, the recipient of the double hand transplant, is 55 years old and worked as a chiropractor. He lost both hands in a fire in 2006, when his vehicle caught on fire. He was unable to escape and suffered severe burns across his body, including his hands. Most of the tissues in his hand were burned or damaged from the fire, and they could not be reconstructed.

Skin grafts and reconstructive surgery has restored much of his body, but little could be done for his hands. This left him dependent on care takers and family members, including his wife. Warren C. Breidenbach, the lead surgeon on the procedure, reported that hands seem to be healing well and that the team plans to begin moving his hands in the next few days. More information will be available when the bandages are removed.

This surgery was aided by the fact that the patient had intact and healthy forearms, with the damage confined to his hands. This allows for easier and faster healing. The chief of transplantation for Jewish Hospital is carefully monitoring the immunosuppressive drug therapy that prevents the patient’s body from rejecting the transplant. Six hand specialist surgeons, 14 fellows, and a large team of surgical staff and anesthesiologists worked together during the procedure.

The surgery was sponsored by the Office of Army Research, the Office of Naval Research, and the Department of Defense. These three government agencies hope that new breakthroughs in transplantation technology will help veterans who require amputation.

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