11. 10. 2004
Face Transplants - No Longer Sci-fi
Doctors in Cleveland have just been given the go-ahead to conduct the world's first face transplant. Gwendolyn Arrington, pictured here, was severely burned in a gas explosion 15 years ago and has undergone more than 30 surgical procedures to correct the damage. She hopes to become the first face transplant recipient.
The surgery is not for people who are trying to look their favorite celebrity. It is a true transplant, complete with the complications of tissue rejection, and life-long immunosuppressant drugs. Face transplants will only be considered for people with extremely severe disfigurements, ones that leave them unable to make facial expressions, or impair their sensory abilities. Why bother then? The transplant of an entire face could potentially greatly increase the chances for the recipient to have better aesthetic and functional results than from attaching small skin grafts a bit at a time.
It's an ethically touchy issue, as most transplants are conducted only for people with life-threatening conditions, when survival becomes impossible without a new organ. There have been, however, more than 20 hand transplants since 1998, a total tongue transplant, and a larynx transplant that restored a patient's ability to speak.
From the Washington Post (bugmenot).