In 2014, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine launched the first clinical hand transplant program in Illinois. This program, which is the 11th in the nation, builds on a long-standing history of successful replantation – or re-attachment – of amputated fingers, hands and upper extremities by SIU’s plastic and reconstructive hand surgeons. The procedures are performed at Memorial Medical Center.
Hand transplantation is an option for people who have lost one or both hands below the elbow and may even be beneficial for some above-elbow amputees. The goal is to restore hand function and sensation as well as a state of wholeness to the body.
Michael W. Neumeister, MD, FRCSC, FACS, is surgical director of the SIU Hand Transplant Program. He is also professor and chair of SIU’s Department of Surgery and The Elvin G. Zook Endowed Chair in Plastic Surgery.
Bradford L. West, MD, is the medical director of the SIU Hand Transplant Program. He is the chair of nephrology at Springfield Clinic and serves as medical director of the Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Pancreas and Kidney Transplant Program and Surgery Services at Memorial Medical Center.
Shaun D. Mendenhall, MD, hand transplant research fellow and plastic surgery resident has been instrumental in building the hand transplant program and in performing clinical and basic science research on hand transplantation.
The Memorial Medical Center Foundation provided a $2.8 million grant to establish the hand transplant program. The grant is expected to cover the majority of costs for up to five patients over three years.