A surgical team in New York made an announcement on Thursday, revealing their achievement of conducting the world’s first complete eye transplant, a procedure celebrated as a significant medical advancement. However, it remains uncertain whether the recipient will regain their vision.
This groundbreaking surgical procedure entailed the removal of a portion of the face and the entire left eye from a donor, which was then grafted onto a power line worker from Arkansas. This worker had survived a severe 7,200-volt electric shock in June 2021 when his face came into contact with a live wire.
The recipient, Aaron James, aged 46, had endured extensive injuries, including the loss of his left eye, his dominant left arm above the elbow, his nose, lips, front teeth, left cheek area, and chin. He was referred to NYU Langone Health, a renowned medical center for facial transplants, which successfully performed the procedure on May 27.
Transplanting an entire eye has long been a significant goal in the field of medical science. While researchers have achieved some success in mice, where they restored partial vision, this landmark surgery had never before been accomplished in a living individual.
“We always talk about a second chance at life — he’s been given a second chance,” said Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the 21-hour-surgery that made use of 3D cutting guides, which allowed surgeons to remove segments of bone from the donor and place them precisely in James.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect patient,” he added, praising James for undergoing the extremely risky surgery so that others in his situation could benefit in the future.
According to retinal ophthalmologist Vaidehi Dedania, the transplanted left eye is displaying excellent signs of health. It possesses a strong blood supply, sustains the appropriate pressure, and even produces an electrical signal, although James has not yet regained his vision. “But we have a lot of hope,” she further stated.
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