Station nightclub survivor has positive attitude as he leaves MGH with new left hand

Joe Kinan was severly burned in the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island and is now the first person to get a hand transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Standing behind him is his fiancee, Carrie Pratt.
Joe Kinan was severly burned in the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island and is now the first person to get a hand transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital. Standing behind him is his fiancee, Carrie Pratt. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Less than three weeks after he became the first person to undergo hand transplant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Joe Kinan today said he is hoping for success.

“We’ll see how it goes,’’ Kinan told reporters before he left the Boston hospital. “I have a pretty tenacious attitude towards most things...I’m hoping it doesn’t die.’’

Kinan is one of the survivors of the The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick that killed 100 people on Feb. 20, 2003, after pyrotechnics used during a concert ignited soundproofing material.

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The building was quickly engulfed in flames, and Kinan was severely burned.

Flanked by his fiancee, Carrie Pratt, and surgeon, Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo Jr., Kinan showed off his new hand, wrapped in a cast and splint, except for the tips of the fingers. Looking down at his new hand, Kinan was able to slightly wiggle the fingers, but said it still hurt to do so.

Hope, he said, is what keeps him focused throughout his recovery, which includes physical therapy at MGH three times a week for the next year.

“I’m happy. Feels pretty good,” he said. “I’m confident that everything that’s been done is going to continue to go smooth.”

Cetrulo said the surgery, which involved a complicated fusion of nerves, tendons, and bones, as well as restoring blood flow, “went as smooth as it could possibly have gone.”

“Everything we did, we did once, and we did it without complication,” Cetrulo said.

Cetrulo applauded Kinan’s determination to assure the surgery succeeds.

“Since the procedure, he’s been an absolute animal when it comes to rehabilitation,’’ the plastic surgeon said. “We actually have to hold him back a little sometimes, but we knew that going in. He’s already ahead of the curve thus far in getting his function back, so we’re very excited.”

This was Mass. General’s first hand transplant operation since announcing the launch of the program last fall. Brigham and Women’s is the only other Boston hospital that has reported performing the procedure.

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