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First American to Receive Double Hand Transplant Reveals It Was Unsuccessful

“I can do absolutely nothing!” exclaims the first American, who underwent the double hand transplant surgery.

Jeff Kepner now wishes that he could remove the transplanted hands. Kepner sat down for an interview with TIME and revealed that he has never been able to use his transplanted hands:

 “I sit in my chair all day and wear my TV out.”

Kepner’s hands were amputated following sepsis caused by a strep throat infection in 1999. Till 2009, he used prosthetics that allowed him to drive a car and hold a job as well. Then, Kepner underwent the double hand transplant. He believed that if the transplanted hands didn’t work well for him, he could always revert to prosthetics.


Image Source: AP


The case of the first double hand transplant in America is overseen by Vijay Gorantla who warns that even prosthetics would require an intense physical therapy if the transplants are removed:

 “It’s uncertain if Kepner would be able to use prosthetics if the hands were removed, and that rigorous physical therapy would be required.”

Another option is to opt for partial amputation which will significantly improve Kepner’s life. However, he has had his fill of the surgeries and has no wish to go under the knife again:

“I am not going through all those operations again.”


Image Source: Valerie Kepner


The surgery was performed by Dr W.P. Andrew Lee. Dr Lee asserted that Kepner’s case is an exception, and the other patients are doing quite well:

 “The other three patients have had significant functional return in their hands and have been able to resume completely independent living, including driving, working, and going to school.”

Kepner’s wife takes care of him full-time and has set up a GoFundMe page to cover the years of medical bills.

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