Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777
Other Inquiries

Additional Resources

For more information, media coverage and video of the nation's first bilateral hand transplant, visit our media kit.

High-Resolution Photos from UPMC’s second bilateral hand transplant on February 5, 2010

 ​

UPMC Completes Nation’s Second Bilateral Hand Transplant

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 11 – A 41-year-old Harrisburg, Pa., man who lost both hands in a farming accident is the second person in the nation to receive a bilateral hand transplant and the first to have his entire forearm replaced. On Feb. 5, Chris Pollock also became the third patient treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) with the “Pittsburgh Protocol,” an immune modulation therapy that aims to reduce the risk associated with toxic anti-rejection drugs.

“Chris is the third patient to receive a hand transplant at UPMC since March 2009. The goal of our program has always been to make hand transplants safer as a viable alternative to prosthetics. With each successful surgery, we are closer to that goal,” said members of the Composite Tissue Transplantation Program based in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UPMC.

A team of surgeons, critical care specialists, transplant nurses, and therapists has cared for Mr. Pollock since the 11-hour surgery. He received a total forearm transplant, including the elbow joint, on his right side and was transplanted slightly above the wrist on his left. He will soon begin daily occupational therapy at the UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research as his physicians monitor him closely for signs of rejection.

“Both of our previous hand transplant recipients have been maintained on a low-dose of a single anti-rejection drug and have regained significant function and sensation in their transplanted hands. Thus far, Chris is recovering well from surgery,” said the surgeons

Although other surgeons from around the world have performed hand transplants successfully, they have used a conventional protocol of multiple immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of the grafts, increasing the risk of diabetes, infections, hypertension and other disorders.

In contrast, surgeons at UPMC have implemented a two-phase protocol that involves initial antibody treatment followed by donor bone marrow cell therapy. The goal is not merely to suppress the immune system, but to change the way it functions. Under the protocol, Mr. Pollock, who lost his hands two years ago, received antibodies to help overcome the initial overwhelming immune response. That will be followed by a bone marrow infusion from the hand donor within 15 days after the surgery. Hand transplant patients are treated with tacrolimus, a drug that was first used in liver transplants by UPMC’s Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., more than two decades ago to prevent graft rejection.

UPMC, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research and the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) are funding the hand transplant study. Surgeons performed the first unilateral hand transplant at UPMC on March 14, 2009, and the first bilateral hand transplant in the U.S. on May 4, 2009.

Learn more about the hand transplant program, and view photos and video of Mr. Pollock’s surgery and hand therapy.

About UPMC

UPMC is an $8 billion integrated global health enterprise headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is one of the leading nonprofit health systems in the United States. As western Pennsylvania’s largest employer, with 50,000 employees, UPMC is transforming the economy of the region into one based on medicine, research and technology. By integrating 20 hospitals, 400 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, long-term care facilities and a major health insurance services division, and in collaboration with its academic partner, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC has advanced the quality and efficiency of health care and developed internationally renowned programs in transplantation, cancer, neurosurgery, psychiatry, orthopaedics and sports medicine, among others. UPMC is commercializing its medical and technological expertise by nurturing new companies, developing strategic business relationships with some of the world’s leading multinational corporations, and expanding into international markets, including Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Qatar and Japan.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com