A team of more than thirty medical professionals including nurses, physicians, anesthesiologists and residents performed the country’s fourth total face transplant this month at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a plastic surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital specializing in breast, facial and trunk re-constructive and alteration procedures, led the highly organized transplant team’s efforts for more than fourteen hours.
The face transplant was performed on Mitch Hunter, a thirty year old man from Indiana who was severely injured during a traumatic incident involving both a car crash and shock by a high voltage electrical wire. Hunter’s facial tissues were irreversibly damaged, necessitating the full transplant of lips, nose, eyelids, foundation tissues, the muscles which control facial animation, and the nerves which provide sensation to the face.
“It is remarkable and truly inspiring to see the entire Brigham transplant team, once again, perform this amazing life giving and life transforming procedure,” said the president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Betsy Nabel, MD. She went on to say that the operation could not have been performed without a tissue donor, and that she hoped the success of the procedure would prompt others to consider “the most selfless human act” of organ and tissue donation.
The procedure’s astounding complexity, its need for donor tissue and its shocking professional collaboration requirements make it a truly miraculous achievement. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital is recognized as a world leader in transplantation, completing, among others, the first human organ donor transplant in 1954, the first heart transplant in New England in 1984, and the first heart-lung transplant in Massachusetts in 1992.
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