After a fiery automobile wreck left Joe DiMeo with third-degree burns masking 80% of his physique, the New Jersey man was unable to do even essentially the most primary actions, like tossing a ball to his canine.
The severity of the burns meant that his finger ideas needed to be amputated, and he had no lips or eyelids.
Simply two years later, a revolutionary process is giving DiMeo his life again: The 22-year-old was the recipient of the first-ever profitable face and double hand transplant. The surgical procedure, which has been tried twice earlier than and been unsuccessful up to now, takes about 23 hours and includes transplanting giant items of pores and skin, that are vulnerable to rejection.
Dr. Frank Papay, a plastic surgeon who focuses on grownup and pediatric facial trauma, has led three profitable face transplants on the Cleveland Clinic. Whereas he was not concerned in DiMeo’s surgical procedure, his expertise with the process makes him accustomed to the dangers and difficulties, which he says are far more sophisticated than a coronary heart or different organ transplant.
“(An organ transplant is) a single organ,” Papay defined. “What we’re speaking about is a transplant the place it is pores and skin, muscle, bone, nerves, and a litany of different various kinds of tissue.”
The quantity of various elements means it is troublesome to discover a match, and the tissue might be rejected. This occurred to Charla Nash, a Connecticut girl whose face and fingers have been mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009. Whereas the face transplant was profitable, an an infection induced irreparable injury to her transplanted fingers, so that they had to be surgically removed again in 2011.
It is also troublesome to discover a matching donor: Since DiMeo’s immune system was so delicate, he had only a 6% probability of discovering a match. In August 2020, Joe lastly discovered a match, and the surgical procedure was set.
“Our purpose (was) to offer Joe again a standard life,” stated Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Well being who focuses on facial transplants and carried out the “world’s most extensive facial transplant to date” in 2015.
The 23-hour surgical procedure concerned transplanting hands, forearms and a brand new face. It was a hit, and right now, DiMeo is flourishing: His restoration goes effectively, and he is ready to use his fingers to do on a regular basis duties and actions like understanding.
“This progress, to date, has gone forward of schedule,” DiMeo stated. “My motivation to get issues finished is admittedly excessive up there.”
Papay stated that face and hand transplants will be simply as important as organ transplant surgical procedures.
“Despite the fact that it is not a life-saving organ like a kidney or liver or coronary heart, it truly is a life,” he stated. “You’ll be able to think about, in a face transplant, if you cannot odor, if you cannot communicate, if you cannot breathe appropriately. Plus, (it is) the way you face the world.”