BOSTON, MA – In March 2011, a surgical team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital performed the first full face transplantation in the United States and went on to complete a total of three full face transplantations this year. Now, in the first research publication to evaluate full face transplantation in the US, and largest series worldwide, the researchers describe details of patient preparation, novel design and execution of the operation as well as unique immunosuppression protocol allowing for lowest long-term maintenance drug regimen. They also share details of the early functional outcomes and demonstrate full face transplantation as a viable option in the treatment of severe facial deformities and injuries. This research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine in an issue.
“Unlike conventional reconstruction, facial transplantation seeks to transform severely deformed features to a near-normal appearance and function that conventional reconstructive plastic surgical techniques cannot match,” said lead author Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, Director of the Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lead surgeon in all three full face transplantation procedures. “It truly is a life-giving procedure for these patients.”
In an effort to advance the field of face transplantation, Pomahac and colleagues document the novel processes involved in a successful face transplant program from screening candidates to the transplant procedure itself and the follow up management of the recipients.
Researchers describe the rigorous screening and consent process that each patient must pass, which includes evaluation by a team of physicians who determine whether the patient is physically and mentally prepared for the procedure through numerous clinical and psychological evaulations. Once a candidate is approved by the face transplant team and the Institutional Review Board at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital physicians work closely with the New England Organ Bank to identify the criteria for suitable donors and the process for obtaining consent for this unique transplantation.
Next, researchers outline the details of the surgeries with a focus on the multi-disciplinary collaborative efforts of an entire team of clinicians. Surgeons and staff coordinate their tasks while preparing the recipient and simultaneously retrieving the donor tissue within a limited time frame. The researchers describe the similarities and difference between each procedure, noting the various differences that occurred in the one full face transplantation recipient who also concurrently received a bilateral hand transplant.
– MFP Wire Services