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A Man Electrocuted Receives the First-ever face Transplant, Including a New Eye

face Transplant
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The world’s first whole-eye and partial face transplant has been accomplished by an Arkansas man who was severely burned after receiving an electrical shock to the face.

Aaron James, a 46-year-old military veteran from Arkansas who survived a high-voltage accident at work, had his entire left eye and a section of his face transplanted onto him by an NYU Langone Health medical team in a 21-hour procedure that took place in May.

James stated in a news release from NYU Langone, “I’m grateful beyond words for the donor and his family, who have given me a second chance at life during their own time of great difficulty.” “I hope that knowing that a piece of the donor lives on with me brings the family some comfort.”

James continued, “We hope that my story can inspire those who are dealing with severe facial and ocular injuries.”

Although James’ left eye has shown amazing signs of health in the months after surgery, it is still unclear if he will regain sight in it.

Restored blood flow to the retina—the portion of the eye at the rear that takes in light and sends images to the brain—is one aspect of this.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, director of NYU Langone’s Face Transplant Program, said, “The mere fact that we’ve accomplished the first successful whole-eye transplant with a face is a tremendous feat many have long thought was not possible.” “We’ve made one major step forward and have paved the way for the next chapter to restore vision.”

According to medical professionals, this is the first known whole-eye transplant and the fifth face transplant carried out by Rodriguez.

James was working as a high-voltage lineman in June 2021 when he unintentionally touched a live wire with his face. As a result, he narrowly avoided a deadly 7,200-volt electrical shock. Hot Springs, Arkansas, is his home.

Despite undergoing numerous reconstructive surgeries, he remained severely injured, losing his left eye, his entire nose and lips, his front teeth, and his chin down to the bone.

Two months after James’s accident, physicians at NYU Langone offered some assistance on his situation by conferring with experts at a Texas medical center during the early stages of reconstruction.

For instance, the NYU doctors suggested that the optic nerve be severed as close to the eyeball as feasible when Texas physicians were forced to remove James’ left eye owing to excruciating pain. In the future, this would optimize the alternatives for reconstructive surgery and conserve extra nerve length.

Over the course of the following year, they talked to James about the potential for a face transplant, and in June 2022, they conducted the transplant’s preliminary examination.

Despite the possibility that James’s sight would not return, he and his physicians chose to proceed with a whole-eye transplant in addition to the face transplant.

“The risk versus reward ratio of transplanting James’s eye was very low, given that he needed a face transplant and will be taking immunosuppressive drugs regardless,” Rodriguez said.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, a private nonprofit organization that oversees the administration of the organ transplant program in the United States, formally named James as a recipient in February.

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