Joseph Kutz and Harold Kleinert (Source: kleinertkutz.com)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville gained the reputation as the hand surgery capitol of the world thanks to a prominent physician, Dr. Harold Kleinert. He's been honored as one of Louisville's hometown heroes. Dr. Kleinert passed away on Saturday at the age of 91.
We spoke with Dr. Kleinert 10 years ago about his passion for helping others. "I had no intention to build this monster, it just grew and I had to grow with it," he said.
After medical school in 1953 Kleinert intended to return home to Montana. A stop in Louisville and his skillful hands would start leaving their print.
Kleinert, along with Dr. Joseph Kutz, founded the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center. Since 1960, more than 1,200 physicians from 58 countries have been trained as Hand Fellows in the Institute.
Kleinert's research led to the nations first hand transplant in 1999 at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. Several more procedures followed and a double hand transplant in 2010 grabbed even more attention.
"In the 23rd century when people study the history of medicine, he will be one of the most influential hand surgeons of this last century," said Dr. Warren Breidenbach. Dr.Breidenbach, a former partner with Kleinert Kutz, spoke with us from Arizona. He first met Dr. Kleinert back in 1982. He left the practice in 2011 to pursue a position with the University of Arizona as its chief of the Division of Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery.
"Further than a pioneer, he was a person who revolutionized a field," said Dr. Breidenbach. "At the same time he was an instructor and someone who helped all of us move along in our career."
"Dr. Kleinert was a pioneer in his field who shared his knowledge with hundreds of surgeons and University of Louisville medical students," said Dr. James Ramsey, University of Louisville President. "His legacy lives on through their work improving the lives of others. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
In our interview with him years ago, Dr. Kleinert said, "If you think you're doing something that's good, you're obligated to teach it to others."
He had been retired for some time before he passed away. His funeral arrangements are still pending.