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Surgeons perform second hand transplant in U.S.

Jerry Fisher's artificial limb, top, and his new hand, below  

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (CNN) -- In a 13-hour operation overnight, a team of 18 surgeons and five anesthesiologists gave a 36-year-old gutter installer a new hand, making him the second person in the United States and the third in the world to receive such a transplant.

Jerry Fisher, a father of three from Jackson, Michigan, had the hand attached at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

"This went very smoothly. It took us 13 hours," said Dr. Warren Breidenbach, a hand surgeon on the transplant team. "The patient is now in recovery and is actually back on the floor. And really, I can't be more pleased with the way things turned out."

The surgery began at 8:12 p.m. Friday and ended at 9:10 a.m. Saturday, a hospital spokeswoman said. The surgery went well, said hospital president Douglas Shaw, and Fisher was taken to a recovery room in stable condition.

Jerry Fisher speaks with CNN about his hand transplant operation

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CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports on the delicate operation

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A brief look at the surgical process for hand transplantation

"He left the operating room in good condition and alert and was actually joking with members of the surgical team," Shaw told CNN.

He will likely be moved to a regular patient room within several hours, Shaw said. In four days, a physical therapist and brace specialist will begin bracing his hand and working with it, Shaw said.

Fisher will likely remain hospitalized for seven to 10 days and remain in the Louisville area for therapy for the next three months, Mackovic said.

Fisher lost his hand July 4, 1996, when a firecracker, a three-inch mortar, exploded in his hand.

After the accident, his left nondominant hand was amputated at the wrist. Since then, Fisher has been using a hook in place of his missing hand.

The donor hand came from a man who was declared brain dead. Fisher will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.

In order to be selected, Fisher underwent physical and psychological testing, Mackovic said.

Fisher, who is self-employed, installs seamless gutters.

Hand surgeons, anesthesiologists and transplant experts from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates and the University of Louisville made up the transplant team.

Before undergoing the surgery, Fisher talked with Matthew Scott, who became the first person in the country to undergo the surgery two years ago. Scott remains healthy and continues to gain motion and function in his new hand, while incorporating it into everyday activities, the hospital said. Scott can rotate his wrist and move his fingers to perform various tasks.

The first hand transplant was done in France in 1998. Clint Hallam, 50, who had lost his hand in prison, failed to follow the anti-rejection drug regimen. Last week, the hand was amputated.

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U.S. doctors perform first hand transplant surgery
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Jewish Hospital
Hand Transplant

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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