- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 3, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Michigan man who lost his right hand in a work-related accident more than 30 years ago became the third successful hand transplant recipient in the United States, doctors said last week.

David F. Savage was doing well after the surgery Wednesday at Jewish Hospital in Louisville.

Doctors said the transplant for Mr. Savage, 54, presented unusual challenges because of the length of time between losing his hand in a machine press and the surgery. The blood vessels leading to Mr. Savage’s hand had shrunk because they were not in use, said Dr. Warren Breidenbach, the lead surgeon.

“It’s like closing down your house for 32 years, then deciding to go back in and take a shower. You turn it on, it sputters a little bit, then it works,” Dr. Breidenbach said.

“If it stops working, we’ll go back in there and get it started again,” he said.

Of the two-dozen hand transplant recipients worldwide, Mr. Savage may have gone the longest between losing a hand and having a transplant, Dr. Breidenbach said.

The procedure involved two surgeries and 32 doctors over 16 hours on Wednesday, the day the anonymous donor died.

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