Surgeons complete double hand transplant surgery

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UPMC surgeons have successfully completed a double hand transplant on Jeff Kepner, a 57-year-old Georgia man who lost both hands and both feet to a blood infection 10 years ago.

Mr. Kepner, of Augusta, is listed in critical but stable condition -- standard after transplant surgery -- following a nine-hour surgery that began at 8 a.m. yesterday and involved 10 surgeons, UPMC spokeswoman Amy Dugas Rose said.

It is the first double hand transplant performed in the United States and the second hand transplant in two months at UPMC.

In yesterday's procedure, four teams of surgeons coordinated their work, two to prepare the deceased donor's hands for transplant and two to prepare Mr. Kepner's arms. Mr. Kepner's amputations were partway up his forearms, and surgeons attached the donor's hands and lower forearms to his arms after carefully labeling all the tendons, nerves and muscles that would be attached to each other.

Mr. Kepner also uses lifelike foot and lower leg prostheses for mobility, and in the past decade he has had two hip replacements. Under a special treatment procedure developed here, he will get an infusion of bone marrow from the donor in about a week to help his body accept the donated tissue.

There have been six single hand transplants in the United States -- one at UPMC on March 14 on former Marine Joshua Maloney of Bethel Park, and five at Louisville Jewish Hospital in Kentucky. Worldwide, there had been 24 single hand transplants and eight double hand transplants over the past several years before this year's two UPMC operations.

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Mark Roth can be reached at or 412-263-1130.


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