A Marion farmer who lost his hand in a combine accident has undergone an innovative transplant in Kentucky.
Ronald Thurman's dominant right hand was amputated at the wrist after the 2003 accident, and he had been wearing a low-elbow prosthesis.
This week, the 56-year-old became the oldest patient to receive a hand transplant at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky.
Twenty-four hand surgeons and two anesthesiologists took part in the nearly 16-hour procedure.
"It is a team effort," said Dr. Joseph Kutz, the lead surgeon on the case who helped developed the procedure. "We worked in two-hour shifts throughout the night. We had a plan, and we're very happy as he seems to be doing well."
Thurman will likely have his new hand fitted for braces Friday and will begin physical therapy in a couple of days, remaining under care in Louisville for several months.
"His hand looks good," Kutz said. "Of course, we are a long way from knowing how well it will function, but he is doing well."
The surgical team had been working for Thurman and listed him for a transplant four weeks ago.
"It is because of donor families that we are able to do these surgeries and to give individuals the gift of two, functioning hands," said Jenny Jones, director of education for Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. "If we didnt have our donor families, we wouldn't have any transplantation."
The Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft Program team pioneered the hand transplant procedure and has been performing hand transplants since 1999, the longest in the United States, the hospital said.
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