News Stories

First Human Face Transplant

On October 15, physicians at the Cleveland Clinic receivedreview board approval to begin screening patients for thefirst ever human face transplant.

In the first few procedures, they only plan to use facialskin and the connective tissue underneath. Patients wouldretain their own underlying muscle, so they wouldn?t looklike their donor.

Facial transplants have a projected 50 percent failure rate,according to Dr. Maria Siemionow, the director of plasticsurgery research and training in microscopic surgery. Forthis reason, patient selection will be critical in thesuccess of the operations. An ethical debate raged for 10months prior to the clinic?s approval that focused onwhether to subject patients to the risks of surgery andanti-rejection therapy treatment for generally cosmeticreasons.

Patients wishing to undergo facial reconstruction may be easierto find than an appropriate cadaver to act as donor. Doctorssay the search for a good match might even take as long as 2years.

The clinic says though it is ready to begin screening, ithas yet to accept any donors or patients waiting for theprocedure.

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