Double hand transplant recipient is recovering
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Jeff Kepner, who received the nation's first double hand transplant Monday, is recovering in intensive care at UPMC Montefiore and is doing well, hospital officials said yesterday.
The 57-year-old Augusta, Ga., man, who lost both hands and feet to a sudden, severe blood infection 10 years ago, received the hands and lower forearms of a deceased donor in a nine-hour surgery.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, four teams of 10 surgeons worked on the transplant -- two teams to prepare the donor's hands and arms, and two to prepare Mr. Kepner's arms, carefully labeling the tendons, nerves and muscles that would need to be attached.
Mr. Kepner is in critical but stable condition, UPMC spokeswoman Amy Dugas Rose said, which is standard after transplant surgery.
The medical center originally had estimated the double transplant could take 15 to 20 hours, but the experience team members gained when they did a single hand transplant March 14 apparently helped make the process even more efficient this time.
Mr. Kepner, a former Air Force member, was born in Lancaster, Pa., but moved to Augusta several years ago. One evening in 1999, he felt as if he had the flu, went to the hospital, and didn't wake up until three weeks later.
He had been attacked by severe sepsis, and it left his hands and feet blackened and so damaged they had to be amputated.
Since that time, he has used hook prostheses on his hands that are operated by a harness around his shoulders, and lower leg and feet prostheses to help him walk. 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.
First Published May 6, 2009 12:00 am