On the Other Hand
On Jan. 24, 1999, doctors performed the nation's first hand transplant at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky. (The world's first successful hand transplant took place last September in Lyons, France.) Hospital spokeswoman Barbara Keane says the patient, Matt Scott, is adjusting well; he shows no signs of rejection and can even open and close his new hand.
Scott did not have to pay for the procedure, but Keane estimates that the operation, first year of rehabilitation, and medication will cost about $150,000. Over the next three months, Scott will attend physical therapy sessions six days a week to gain strength and a greater range of motion in his hand. He must also take a combination of drugs, including three immunosuppressants, which will cost $24,000 per year. Scott, like all other transplant recipients, will require varying doses of these drugs for the rest of his life, or as long as he has the hand.