08:22pm Monday 06 April 2020

Indiana Man Recovering at Jewish Hospital Follow Hand Transplant

At 56 years old, Thurman is the oldest patient to receive a transplant from the Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team made up of surgeons and researchers from Jewish Hospital, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery, Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, and the University of Louisville.  He is recovering in the intensive care unit at Jewish Hospital. 

Joseph Kutz, M.D., partner with Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center and director of the Kleinert Institute, led a team of 24 hand surgeons and two anesthesiologists to perform the hand transplant during a 15 ½ hour procedure. 

“It is a team effort,” Kutz said. “We worked in two-hour shifts throughout the night.  We had a plan and we’re very happy as he seems to be doing well.”

Kutz said Thurman will likely have his new hand fitted for braces on Friday, February 17, 2012 and begin physical therapy in a couple of days.  He will remain under care in Louisville for several months.

“His hand looks good,” Kutz said. “Of course, we are a long way from knowing how well it will function, but he is doing well.”

Ronald Thurman (High Res)

Thurman is a self-employed farmer. He injured his right hand in a farming accident in November 2003 when his hand was caught in a combine/auger.  His right hand was amputated at the wrist, nine inches below the elbow.  He had a low-elbow prosthesis prior to the surgery. 

Dr. Kutz, and Michael Marvin, M.D., director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital and associate professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville are the co-investigators for the innovative procedure.

Rosemary Ouseph, M.D., director of Clinical Transplantation and professor of Medicine for the University of Louisville, manages the patient’s immunosuppressive drug therapy, along with Dr. Marvin.

Ouseph said Thurman is being treated with a combination of medications, including
Thymoglobulin, Prograf, Myfortic and steroids.

“Early on, all of the hand transplant patients have had episodes of rejection,” said Ouseph. “We will continue to watch for rejection, monitor drug levels and adjust the patient’s medications accordingly.”

Kutz said the team had been working with Thurman and listed him for a hand transplant about four weeks ago. 

“It is because of donor families that we are able to do these surgeries and to give individuals the gift of two, functioning hands,” said Jenny Jones, director of education for Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.  If we didn’t have our donor families, we wouldn’t have any transplantation.”

Kentuckians can join the Kentucky Donor Registry online at www.donatelifeky.org. People who live outside of the state of Kentucky can visit www.donatelife.net for state specific donor registry information.

The Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team pioneered the hand transplant procedure and has been performing hand transplants since 1999, the longest in the United States.  LifeGift in Texas, in coordination with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, arranged the hand donation for the team’s eighth patient’s hand transplant procedure.

Other hand transplants performed by the Louisville Vascular Composite Allograft Program are:
Matthew Scott – January 24, 1999
Gerald Fisher – February 16, 2001
Dave Savage – November 29, 2006
Dave Armstrong – July 12, 2008
Jan (Erik) Hondusky – November 24, 2008
Richard Edwards – August 24, 2010 (double hand transplant)
Donnie Rickelman – July 10, 2011

Patient and physician information, photography and video are available at www.handtransplant.com.  

The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the Vascularized Composite Allograft Program.


About Jewish Hospital
Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, is an internationally renowned high-tech tertiary referral center developing leading-edge advancements in hand and microsurgery, heart and lung care, home care, rehab medicine (including sports medicine), orthopaedics, neuroscience, occupational health, organ transplantation and outpatient and primary care.  Site of the world’s first successful hand transplant, the world’s first and second successful AbioCor® Implantable Replacement Heart procedures, and world’s first trial of cardiac stem cells in chronic heart failure, the hospital is in the select group that performs heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation.

About the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery
Named in honor of Dr. Kleinert’s mother, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Micro Surgery (CMKI) is a world-renowned nonprofit education and research organization funded by the Kleinert-Kutz Endowment for Education and Research in Hand and Micro Surgery. The physicians of the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center teach the next generation of hand surgeons through CMKI’s accredited fellowship program, which is cooperative effort with the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The Fellows are fully trained plastic, orthopedic, or general surgeons from around the world who come to Louisville to get additional training in hand and micro surgery. To date, more than 1,200 physicians from 58 countries have served as Fellows. Dozens of research projects refining surgical techniques, testing new devices and pushing the frontiers of basic and clinical science in the field of hand surgery are currently underway. CMKI also provides patient rehabilitation services after surgery and patients recovery services without surgery through the Hand Therapy Center and Orthotic Care Center. For more information, please visit www.cmki.org

About the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center
Kleinert Kutz is one of the largest hand care programs in the world, pioneering achievements in hand and microsurgery, research, therapy and orthotics. The 13 physicians of Kleinert Kutz offer expertise in orthopedic and plastic surgery and provide comprehensive care for the hand and arm. Kleinert Kutz’s significant achievements include the nation’s first five hand transplants, one of the world’s first cross-hand replantations, pioneered work in primary reconstruction using free tissue transfer and national award for research in blood flow to the nerve.  For more information, please visit www.kleinertkutz.com or call (502) 561-4263.

About the University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is Kentucky’s metropolitan research university, with 22,000 students attending classes at 11 colleges and schools on three campuses. Bordered by its many medical partners, UofL’s downtown Health Sciences Center is home to more than 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields with the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

About LifeGift
LifeGift is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to recovering organs and tissue for individuals needing transplants in 109 counties in North, Southeast and West Texas. Originally established in 1987 as Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization and later renamed, LifeGift is celebrating 25 years of saving and enhancing lives. It is one of the three OPOs in the state that operates and maintains the Donate Life Texas Registry. For more information about LifeGift, visit www.lifegift.org.  For more information about Donate Life Texas, visit www.donatelifetexas.org.

About Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA)
Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) is dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. KODA is an independent, non-profit organ and tissue procurement organization and was formed to establish a statewide educational and procurement network. KODA serves 114 counties in Kentucky, four counties in southern Indiana and two counties in western West Virginia. The KODA service area includes 112 hospitals, three transplant centers and a multicultural population of four million. For more information about KODA visit www.kyorgandonor.org.

Media Contact(s):
Barbara Mackovic
Senior Manager
[email protected]
Phone: 502-587-4230
Cell Phone: 502-641-5461
Direct Phone: 502-562-7075

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