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CNN Today

Paramedic Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Successful Hand Transplant

Aired January 25, 2000 - 1:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A paramedic who lost his left hand in an accident has become a medical pioneer. You no doubt know the story.

CNN's Dr. Steve Salvatore reports on the world's first hand transplant recipient one year after his breakthrough surgery.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. STEVE SALVATORE, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been quite a year for Matthew Scott. It began at the University of Louisville in January of 1999 with a hand transplant. It was the first in the United States and still an experimental procedure.

MATTHEW SCOTT, HAND TRANSPLANT PATIENT: You can't go into a procedure like this, you know, with the thought that it's going to be just, you know, all roses and sunshine.

DR. WARREN BREIDENBACH, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE: There's a 30 to 50-percent chance of rejection, and we're talking a year -- during the next year.

SALVATORE: Failure would have meant his body rejected the transplant. To prevent this from happening, Scott has been on anti- rejection drugs and will be for the rest of his life, drugs that can increase his risk of infection and cancer.

In the past year, his body has tried to reject the new hand three times, and his medicines had to be increased temporarily. There was also the question of how well he'd be able to use his new hand.

BREIDENBACH: We anticipate that you'd be able to use the hand to open a door, to pick up a glass, to dress yourself. You may not be able to use the hand to button single-handily a shirt, a very fine motion.

SALVATORE: Their prediction proved accurate. At first, Matthew Scott couldn't do anything with his new hand, three months after the operation, he threw out the first pitch at a Phillies baseball game.

SCOTT: Every day, you know, for 20 minutes, a half hour every day we were just throwing, keep working on hand grip.

SALVATORE: And on his one-year anniversary he can open doors, grab and hold onto things. He's even gained some sensation in his hand. Yes, it was quite a year for Matthew Scott.

Dr. Steve Salvatore, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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