Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
HomeHealth‘Once-in-a-lifetime gift’ — First successful face, double hand transplant completed in US

‘Once-in-a-lifetime gift’ — First successful face, double hand transplant completed in US

A team of over 140 healthcare staff at New York University’s Langone Health conducted a 23-hour surgery on a New Jersey worker who had suffered third-degree burns in 2018.

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New Delhi: In a first, doctors in the US have carried out the first successful face and double hand transplant on a 22-year-old.

Joe DiMeo, a night shift worker in New Jersey, had suffered third-degree burns on 80 per cent of his body after a car crash in 2018. The accident had left him with no lips and eyelids. Even his fingertips had to be amputated.

However, in August last year, a team of over 140 healthcare staff at New York University’s Langone Health conducted a 23-hour surgery on DiMeo, transplanting large pieces of skin on to his face as well as his hands. This week, the institute announced the transplant success.

Dr. Frank Papay, a plastic surgeon who specialises in adult and pediatric facial trauma, told the NBC that facial transplants are much more complicated than any organ transplant.

“What we’re talking about is a transplant where it’s skin, muscle, bone, nerves, and a litany of other different types of tissue,” said Papay.

In the past, a woman who received face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee developed an infection despite the surgery being successful initially. Her hands had to be eventually surgically removed due to the damage caused by the infection.


Also read: Why it takes 2 shots to make mRNA vaccines do the trick


‘Second chance’

DiMeo’s surgery was led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Health who specialises in facial transplants and performed the “world’s most extensive facial transplant” in 2015 to restore the face of a firefighter.

The New Jersey worker’s immune system was sensitive, which led to an additional challenge of finding a donor. According to the team, he had just a 6 per cent chance of finding a match. But in August 2020, the team found one.

DiMeo’s transplant included both hands up to the mid-forearm. His eyebrows, ears, nose, eyelids, lips and skull line, cheek, nasal and chin bone were also transplanted.

Speaking to The Guardian about the surgery, DiMeo said, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime gift, and I hope the (donor) family can take some comfort knowing that part of the donor lives on with me.”

He added, “My parents and I are very grateful that I’ve been given this second chance.”


Also read: Mobile hospitals inside cargo containers — how India is preparing for next disease outbreak


 

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