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Recipient Grows Accustomed to Transplant
The Indiana man who received a hand transplant at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital earlier this month is speaking publicly for the first time about the procedure. Thirty-six year old Donnie Rickelman lost his left hand in a factory accident thirteen years ago. His new left hand, transplanted July 10, came from an undisclosed male donor from Rickelman’s home state of Indiana.
Rickelman says he already has some movement in his new hand and has begun long days of physical therapy that will continue for many months to come.
“I’d just like to do things normally again. When you lose a hand, everything changes, how you dress, brush your teeth, deodorant, the whole bit. I just want to be normal again,” he said.
Rickelman told WFPL Wednesday that he hopes to go back to work somewhere when his new hand is functional. He’s been on disability since his accident.
Donnie Rickelman is the seventh person to receive a new hand under the transplant program launched by Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville in 1999.
“It’s very overwhelming and happy,” he said. “It’s been a long road and to know that you finally got what you’re after is a good thing.”