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September 30, 2013

Family, associates mourn Louisville hand surgeon

Harold E. Kleinert founded Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center

JEFFERSONVILLE — The family and professional associates of a prominent hand surgeon who died Saturday released a statement on Monday mourning their loss.

Harold E. Kleinert, M.D., FACS, the internationally renowned hand and upper extremity surgeon and founder of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, was 91 years old.

“Harold Kleinert was a truly remarkable physician, medical pioneer, teacher and friend, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Sharon and family,” Thomas Wolff, M.D., of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center, said in the statement. “He cared for generations of patients and families and created an extraordinary legacy that all of the physicians and staff of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center proudly carry on today.

“He was a teacher and inspiration to over 1,300 hand surgeons whom he trained from the U.S. and around the world. Kentuckiana has been very fortunate that this man from Sunburst, Montana, decided to come to Louisville 60 years ago and, in doing so, made it the world capital of hand surgery.”

Kleinert’s family recalled his wit and thanked the community for its support.

“The death of Harold Kleinert has left a void impossible to fill in our hearts and lives,” the Kleinert family said in the statement. “We will miss our gentle father and loving husband. His love was boundless, his work ethic daunting, his western wit so sharply surprising and funny, his competitiveness a challenge. We will miss his presence and his sage advice in all matters of life, and sincerely thank the community for the outpouring of condolences and fond remembrances.”


A Pioneer in the Field of Hand Surgery

A native of Montana, Kleinert attended Northern Montana College and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1943 and Temple University School of Medicine in 1946. In 1953, he brought hand surgery as a specialty to Louisville when he became a Surgical Instructor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and started a hand surgery clinic that grew into the world renowned Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center.

Kleinert established the Christine M. Kleinert Fellowship in Hand Surgery program through the University of Louisville in 1960. Named in honor of his mother, the program has trained more than 1,300 physicians from 58 countries and has been the catalyst for groundbreaking research and achievements in hand and microsurgery.

“Dr. Kleinert believed that if you do something well, you have an obligation to share that knowledge by teaching others,” Wolff said. “He shared his knowledge with medical students and surgeons and was really an inspiration to everyone around him.”

When once asked in an interview what he considered his greatest accomplishment to be, Kleinert said: “It is the thousands of hand fellows from across the world who have trained in Louisville, shared information with us and returned to their countries to do and teach hand surgery.”

In a career that spanned decades, Kleinert lectured extensively on every continent and in nearly every country and authored more than 200 scientific articles. He pioneered the two-bed operating room and was the innovator of regional anesthesia for outpatient surgery as well as inventor of a number of microsurgery instruments and innovations, including the double-head operating microscope and fine microsuture.

Throughout his career, Kleinert championed teamwork, realizing that it was the combined efforts of hospital staff, physicians and emergency medical services personnel that created the highest quality of care and the best possible outcomes for patients.

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