Monday, March 20, 2017

The Hollywood Exec and the Hand Transplant That Changed His Life

LA MAGAZINE | Amy Wallace

Photograph by Michael Lewis

In just 30 hours, a superfit reality TV producer went from the top of his game to the precipice of death. What happened next would teach him everything about grace, resolve, and the power of love.

It is a beautiful hand: strong, with long, slender fingers and smooth skin, its nails ridgeless and pink. If you didn’t know Jonathan Koch—if you first met him, say, on the courts at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Club—you might not suspect that his hand previously belonged to someone else. The straight line of a scar on his outer left forearm offers no tip-off. There is a bulge where Jonathan’s and the donor’s tendons are woven together, but the mark itself doesn’t catch the eye. The Y-shaped seam on his inner arm does. This scar is a stark reminder of the technical mastery that underlies a medical miracle.

In January, about three months after Jonathan and this hand became one, his wife, Jennifer, aims a video camera his way and asks how he is. “I feel great,” he replies, grinning. To see his muscles straining under a gray Under Armour T-shirt, it’s easy to forget what he’s endured. “My hand’s getting stronger every day. It’s more attractive than the hand I used to have, so I’m getting a lot of attention,” he quips, adding that the transplant has earned him a few stalkers. A moment later, though, he’s dead serious. “I wasn’t left-handed,” he says, “but I am now.” Continue reading


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