The University of Louisville celebrates the life of Dr. Joseph Kutz, who passed away Oct. 10.
Kutz was part of the team that performed the world’s first hand transplant with prolonged success at Jewish Hospital in January 1999. The 15-hour surgery changed the course of hand transplantation.
Kutz and his partner Dr. Harold Kleinert (who died in 2013) are a big reason UofL’s medical school developed an internationally recognized program in microsurgery in the 1970s, according to the book, “The University of Louisville,” written by Dwayne D. Cox and William J. Morison.
In July 1998, the Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center, anchored by these two highly acclaimed practitioners, announced its intention to perform “the world’s first successful hand transplant,” a feat that was achieved just months later.
Not one to rest on his laurels, in 2010, Kutz led UofL’s hand surgery training program when a team completed the region’s first double hand transplant, a more than 17-hour process, according to the Courier Journal. And, in 2014, Kutz led a clinical trial that looked at using a patient’s fat to fight rejection during the transplanting process.
Kutz’s history with the UofL dates back to the 1950s. He graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1958 and went on to receive his postgraduate training at UofL. In 1959, he became a surgical resident, then chief resident in 1962, then a hand surgery fellow at the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand & Microsurgery in 1963 and a partner in 1964, according to the center’s website.
Kutz pioneered treatments that are now regularly used by doctors across the world. His willingness to share his knowledge with others was among his greatest gifts, according to UofL Health. He inspired new generations of surgeons and trained hundreds of medical professionals at the University of Louisville School of Medicine while serving as clinical professor of Surgery (Plastic and Reconstructive, Hand).