Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, December 24, 2007

Face Transplant Update

Earlier on this blog, I reported on an unusual anatomical gift, a face.

Here is the abstract from an article which appears in the December 13, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Outcomes 18 Months after the First Human Partial Face Transplantation :

Background: We performed the first human partial face allograft on November 27, 2005. Here we report outcomes up to 18 months after transplantation.

Methods: The postsurgical induction immunosuppression protocol included thymoglobulins combined with tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and prednisone. Donor hematopoietic stem cells were infused on postoperative days 4 and 11. Sequential biopsy specimens were taken from a sentinel skin graft, the facial skin, and the oral mucosa. Functional progress was assessed by tests of sensory and motor function performed monthly. Psychological support was provided before and after transplantation.

Results: Sensitivity to light touch, as assessed with the use of static monofilaments, and sensitivity to heat and cold had returned to normal at 6 months after transplantation. Motor recovery was slower, and labial contact allowing complete mouth closure was achieved at 10 months. Psychological acceptance of the graft progressed as function improved. Rejection episodes occurred on days 18 and 214 after transplantation and were reversed. A decrease in inulin clearance led to a change in immunosuppressive regimen from tacrolimus to sirolimus at 14 months. Extracorporeal photochemotherapy was introduced at 10 months to prevent recurrence of rejection. There have been no subsequent rejection episodes. At 18 months, the patient is satisfied with the aesthetic result.

Conclusions: In this patient who underwent the first partial face transplantation, the functional and aesthetic results 18 months after transplantation are satisfactory.

Photographs, pre- and post-surgery, are available at First Partial Face Transplant - 2 Year Follow-Up.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Hollywood, Florida) for suggesting that I update this story.


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