A team of surgeons at the University of Louisville have performed a double hand transplant on Richard Edwards, an Oklahoma chiropracter. The 17 ½ hour innovative procedure took place on August 24-25 at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center.

Edwards’ wife Cindy said, “This is so exciting. I can’t believe it is a reality. The first time I saw his new hands, I just kept staring at them. I am so grateful and thankful to God.” She added, “I truly want to thank the donor family for their tremendous gift and we are praying to God to comfort them for their loss and pain.”

The 55-year-old lost both hands when his truck caught fire in, 2006. Unable to escape the burning vehicle, he was severely burned on his face, back, arms and hands, leaving very little tissue left in both hands.

Since his injury, Edwards had multiple reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts, but remained with very little hand function. He requires assistance with all activities of daily living and is nearly completely dependent on his wife and others for help.

Lead surgeon, Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., with Kleinert Kutz & Associates, said in the press statement that they will attempt to move the hands in the next few days. Right now, Edwards is in intenstive care, but all signs look promising.

Breidenbach added, “This is the first time we have transplanted someone that was damaged at the hand and not at the forearm. We have healthy muscles and tendons in the forearm making it easier for early movement.”

The hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the composite tissue allotransplantation program.

Photos are available at http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6409846&lang=en.

(Source: Press Release)