Ninth hand transplant recipient also the oldest - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ninth hand transplant recipient also the oldest

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky man became the oldest recipient to receive a hand transplant at Jewish Hospital this week.

67-year-old Jim Ray was injured two years ago when he lost control of a car he was test driving at a Bowling Green race track.

The lower part of his right arm was amputated. 

“This is the first patient where our team has had to do an amputation, said Tuna Ozyurekoglu, MD, hand surgeon with Kleinert Kutz “This makes it so special for us, and such a rewarding moment, because we are able to give him a new hand,” he said.

He received a transplant during a 16-hour-long surgery Tuesday. 

“Mr. Ray's pain level is very controlled,” Dr. Ozyurekoglu continued. “He is doing great, looks great and is very motivated for his upcoming therapy. This amputation was close to the elbow, so we will rely on nerve regeneration more on this patient than in previous cases. We're hopeful that the use of these stem cells will help speed up the nerve regeneration. We are hopeful that he will have a fully functional hand,” he said.

Surgeons used a new cell-based therapy that will help prevent rejection with the transplant.

“With this research model, the patient's own fat cells are removed from the body and then immediately processed and injected into the hand. It is our hope and desire that this study will improve tissue response, dramatically impact healing and reduce need for immunosuppression in patients like Mr. Ray,” said Dr. Stuart K. Williams, who is director of the Bioficial Organs Program.

The team of surgeons was awarded $850,000 to fund a clinical trial for the new treatment, which helped develop the prevention of rejection in hand transplantation.

“With this research model, the patient's own fat cells are removed from the body and then immediately processed and injected into the hand. It is our hope and desire that this study will improve tissue response, dramatically impact healing and reduce need for immunosuppression in patients like Mr. Ray,” said Dr. Williams.

According to doctors, Ray used a hook-type prosthesis for his right hand and struggled with the daily use of his right hand.

"The donor was not local, so this would be considered a national share, which shows how dedicated the transplant world is," director of transplantation, Dr. Michael Marvin, explained.

Jim Ray is the ninth hand transplant recipient at Jewish Hospital since 1999, when the team first developed the transplanted procedure.

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