What a Miraculous Journey!!!!

Our daughter Jordan, Jeff, and Valarie Kepner in
Augusta, GA  (May 2010)
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20Wow, what a mountain Jeff has moved,

On May 4, 2009, Jeff became the First Bi-Lateral Hand Transplant Recipient in the United States thanks to the wonderful doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  He continues to recuperate and is progressing well in his Occupational Therapy.

We want to thank you for visiting Jeff’s website and participating in this miraculous journey with him.  To follow his progress, please go to the “Progress Updates” page.

Also, if you would like to donate to the Jeff Kepner Hand Transplant Fund to help with the ongoing expenses that the Kepner Family are incurring, please visit  the “How to Donate” page.

                  JEFF’S STORY

It was in May 1999, that Jeff suddenly became critically ill.  He was finally diagnosed by the doctors at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, GA, with a Strep A infection that quickly spread throughout his body.  It affected his liver and kidneys, shutting them down, and creating Toxic Shock and Sepsis.  The blood flow to Jeff’s hands and feet shut down as his body worked to fight the infection.  Although Jeff survived the infection after a long two month stay in the hospital, both hands and feet had to be amputated.

Subsequently, in 2002 and 2005, he had to have his right and left hip replaced, respectively, due to deterioration of the joints caused by the drugs that were given to him to fight off the original Strep A infection.

During the past 10 years, Jeff has made a complete recovery and uses prosthetic limbs to do most of the activities of daily life.  He picks his daughter Jordan up from school and drives to his job at Borders Bookstore.  His life had once again taken on a sense of normalcy when his wife Valarie heard about a new Research and Clinical Trial for Hand Transplantation being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

After the initial application phase, and three separate trips to Pittsburgh for intensive tests to ensure that Jeff would be a viable candidate for this program, Jeff officially signed his paperwork placing him in this miraculous program on January 22, 2009.  He now awaits the all important phone call, telling him a donor has been found, and that he needs to get to Pittsburgh.

Jeff is slated to become the first bi-lateral hand transplant recipient in the United States.  The operation will take 10-14 hours with a team of doctors working on each hand simutaneously.  He will be in the hospital for 4 weeks and then will need to stay in the Pittsburgh area for 3 months for intense physical therapy and follow-up.

On May 4, 2009, Jeff Kepner became the First Bi-Lateral Hand Transplant Recipient in the United States thanks to the wonderful doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Picture provided by UPMC.For more detail about this wonderful program and eligibility criteria, please visit the UPMC website at www.upmc.com


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jeff signed his paperwork officially placing him in the Hand Transplant Clinical Trial with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.