The Kleinert Family Mourns the Passing of Dr. Harold E. Kleinert at Age 91

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in CMKI in the News, Press Releases | 0 comments


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY (September 30, 2013) – The Kleinert family, together with the extended family of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, announced with great sadness that Harold E. Kleinert, M.D, FACS, the internationally renowned hand and upper extremity surgeon and founder of KleinertKutzHandCareCenter, passed away on Saturday, September 28.  Dr. Kleinert was 91 years old.

“Harold Kleinert was a truly remarkable physician, medical pioneer, teacher and friend, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Sharon and family,” said Thomas Wolff, M.D., of KleinertKutzHandCareCenter. “He cared for generations of patients and families and created an extraordinary legacy that all of the physicians and staff of KleinertKutzHandCareCenter proudly carry on today.  He was a teacher and inspiration to over 1,300 hand surgeons whom he trained from the U.S. and around the world.  Kentuckiana has been very fortunate that this man from Sunburst, Montana, decided to come to Louisville 60 years ago and, in doing so, made it the world capital of hand surgery.”

The Kleinert Family Mourns the Passing of Dr. Harold E. Kleinert

“The death of Harold Kleinert has left a void impossible to fill in our hearts and lives,” said the Kleinert family.  “We will miss our gentle father and loving husband.  His love was boundless, his work ethic daunting, his western wit so sharply surprising and funny, his competitiveness a challenge.  We will miss his presence and his sage advice in all matters of life, and sincerely thank the community for the outpouring of condolences and fond remembrances.”

Dr. Kleinert is survived by his wife Sharon E. (Stamper); children Harold L. (Jane), Robert Amil (Susan), Christine Schrodt (Randy), James M. (Tori), Jean Rueff (Robert) and Louisa; 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be at Scott Funeral Home in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on Sunday, October 6, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.  The funeral will be held at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville on Monday, October 7 at 2 p.m., followed by private burial at CaveHillCemetery.  Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery at 225 Abraham Flexner Way, Louisville, Kentucky (40202).

A Pioneer in the Field of Hand Surgery

A native of Montana, Dr. Kleinert attended NorthernMontanaCollege and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1943 and Temple University School of Medicine in 1946.  In 1953, he brought hand surgery as a specialty to Louisville when he became a Surgical Instructor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and started a hand surgery clinic that grew into the world renowned KleinertKutzHandCareCenter.

Dr. Kleinert established the Christine M. Kleinert Fellowship in Hand Surgery program through the University of Louisville in 1960.  Named in honor of his mother, the program has trained more than 1,300 physicians from 58 countries and has been the catalyst for groundbreaking research and achievements in hand and microsurgery.

The Kleinert Family Mourns the Passing of Dr. Harold E. Kleinert

“Dr. Kleinert believed that if you do something well, you have an obligation to share that knowledge by teaching others,” said Dr. Wolff.  “He shared his knowledge with medical students and surgeons and was really an inspiration to everyone around him.”

When once asked in an interview what he considered his greatest accomplishment to be, Dr. Kleinert said: “It is the thousands of hand fellows from across the world who have trained in Louisville, shared information with us and returned to their countries to do and teach hand surgery.”

In a career that spanned decades, Dr. Kleinert lectured extensively on every continent and in nearly every country and authored more than 200 scientific articles.  He pioneered the two-bed operating room and was the innovator of regional anesthesia for outpatient surgery as well as inventor of a number of microsurgery instruments and innovations, including the double-head operating microscope and fine microsuture.

Throughout his career, Dr. Kleinert championed teamwork, realizing that it was the combined efforts of hospital staff, physicians and emergency medical services personnel that created the highest quality of care and the best possible outcomes for patients.

A Truly Distinguished Career

Dr. Kleinert served as Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville until his retirement from medical practice in 2008.  He was honored with the title of Clinical Professor of Surgery Emeritus in 2012.

He was certified by the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow in the AmericanCollege of Surgeons and a member of many medical organizations.  He also served as President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Louisville Surgical Society and Jewish Hospital medical staff.

The Kleinert Family Mourns the Passing of Dr. Harold E. Kleinert

Among his many awards were the American Medical Association Scientific Achievement Award, the Scudder Orator from the AmericanCollege of Surgeons, the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Louisville Surgical Society Yandell Lecturer Award, the Jewish Hospital Maimonides Award and the Ad Astra Award for Distinguished Service to the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Dr. Kleinert served in the United States Air Force (Colonel, retired), with 20 years in the Army Air Force and Reserves and as flight surgeon for the Kentucky Air National Guard.  He also served as National Consultant in Hand Surgery to the Surgeon General, United States Air Force.

Lasting Legacy

KleinertKutzHandCareCenter is one of the largest hand care programs in the world providing comprehensive upper extremity care.  Its offices are located in Louisville, Lexington and New Albany, Indiana.  Dr. Kleinert’s legacy of caring will continue to be carried on by a team of 12 Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center physicians who are dedicated to restoring to patients the function and quality of life associated with strong, healthy hands and arms.

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