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Hand Transplant Recipient Doing Well After Second Surgery

By Sheila Ash

Doctors at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center provided an update Monday on the progress being made by double hand transplant recipient Rich Edwards.

“It may have been the donated hand had either an injured or an abnormal blood supply.  Or it could have been Mr. Edwards own forearms that were scarred and burned badly enough that they didn’t help give a good environment for one of the arteries,”

Breidenbach says Edwards (in photo from September 2) is doing fine.  Doctors will monitor the right hand for another two weeks and keep it immobile so blood flow won’t be disrupted.  Meanwhile, Edwards’ left hand is progressing well and will continue to receive therapy as scheduled.

Edwards lost the use of both his hands in a truck fire four years ago.  He received his donor hands in late August.

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Local News

Transplant Recipient Talks About New Hands

Story and Photos By Sheila Ash

The nation’s third double hand transplant recipient and his team of doctors gathered Thursday to discuss his surgery and progress. It was Rich Edwards’ first public remarks since last week’s operation.

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Sitting next to his wife Cindy, Rich Edwards was upbeat and positive just over a week after undergoing a 17-and-a-half hour surgery to replace both of his hands. Edwards, a former chiropractor, became emotional as he spoke about going back to work and regaining the feeling in his hands.

“I would love to go back to chiropractic. I’m hoping that I can. And I know that if I can’t get back to chiropractic at least I can start doing things again that I never used to be able to do. One of my favorite senses was my sense of touch and I love to hold my wife’s hand, feel her skin and I want to do that again,” he said.

Edwards lost the use of his hands in a fire four years ago. He says he’s very grateful to the donor family. Doctors at Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center say Edwards is doing well enough to leave the hospital Friday.      

Edwards is from Oklahoma, but will remain in Louisville for at least the next three months for therapy.