Louisville, Ky. — Louisville’s Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) Program has received a $1.5 million grant from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation. The funds will allow for the continuation of the city’s hand transplant program, which is a partnership of physicians and researchers at Jewish Hospital, KleinertKutzHandCareCenter, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute (CMKI), and the University of Louisville. This team of physicians and researchers was the first to perform hand transplants in the United States, and are currently the world’s largest hand transplant program. The group has performed a total of nine hand transplants on eight patients including the world’s longest surviving hand transplant on Mr. Matt Scott, who is now nearly 14 years post-transplant.
The $1.5 million will be used specifically to bring potential hand transplant recipients to Louisville for screening, performance of the hand transplantation surgery, and patient therapy and rehabilitation after surgery. There is currently one individual approved for a transplant and waiting for a donor, and seven individuals who could come to Louisville to be screened for eligibility. This funding will allow Louisville’s VCA program to accomplish its goal of performing two hand transplants per year.
“I am excited that generous donors to the Foundation will help support Louisville’s unique hand transplant program and continue to improve the lives of others around the country,” said Tom Hirsch, chair, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation Board of Directors.
“We are honored to receive this generous grant from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, which allows us to impact more lives through the gift of hand transplantation” says Dr. Joseph Kutz, a founding partner of the KleinertKutzHandCareCenter, and president of the Board of the Christine M. Kleinert Institute.
“We have a long history of collaboration among the Kleinert Kutz surgeons, the researchers, fellows and therapists in CMKI, colleagues at the University of Louisville, and especially with our colleagues at Jewish Hospital, who initially provided funding for the program,” says Dr. Christina Kaufman, executive director of the Christine M. Kleinert Institute. “The Foundation previously worked with us to procure Department of Defense funding, and now the Foundation is once again providing the support we need to continue. We are excited about several new directions for the program. With this funding I have no doubt that we will continue to put Louisville on the map in our role as a world leader in hand transplantation.”
“The hand transplant program in Louisville is unique both in its success and longevity,” says Dr. Rosemary Ouseph, professor of Medicine, director of Kidney Transplantation, Kidney Disease Program, University of Louisville. “We are grateful for the continued support and will strive to improve patient outcomes, increase our knowledge, and make hand transplantation more accessible.”
“This funding comes at a critical time,” says Dr. Michael Marvin, director of Transplantation at Jewish Hospital, associate professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville. “Insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid do not yet cover hand transplantation surgery because it is still considered ‘experimental’ and not ‘standard of care.’ Without this grant, our program would likely have been unable to continue to offer these cutting-edge, life-changing procedures. Our goal is to work with other teams throughout the country who are performing these procedures to establish hand transplantation as a procedure approved by insurance companies for reimbursement. We are thankful and honored to receive this crucial funding.”
About the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation
The Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation invests in outstanding patient care facilities and services, the education of health caregivers, advanced clinical research and improved access to quality medical care. The foundation also recently celebrated the completion of its “A Brighter Future” campaign, which raised $25.5 million. To make a gift to the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, visit giving.jhsmh.org or call (502) 587-4543.
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the UniversityMedicalCenter. The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies, with more than 16,000 employees across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is the largest health system in Kentucky and has more than 2,700 licensed beds.
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 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. The physicians of the KleinertKutzHandCareCenter 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 59 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 HandTherapyCenter and OrthoticCareCenter. For more information, please visit www.cmki.org or call (502) 562-0310.
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.