By Noushaba T. Rashid
Would you trust someone with your limbs and face? Just donating your kidney or liver is something of the past. Now you could donate your hands or your face. How? Why? Becoming an organ donor may mean more than just donating your internal organs. Checking the box on your driver’s license just got a little tricky.
With the onset of modern technology in transplants, the government is gearing up to regulate a new field of hand and face transplant like it does with organ transplants. This gives Americans who are disabled or disfigured by injury, disease or combat a chance at some kind of reconstruction.
The first step is to decide on how people should consent to donate body parts without deterring them from wanting to donate traditionally, like heart, lungs, and other internal organs.
Dr. Suzanne McDiarmid, who chairs the committed of the United Network for Organ Sharing, UNOS, will develop new policies within the next few months. She knows that your average person is not gong to know what than an organ also means a hand or a face. They must make it clear otherwise they could undermine the public and lose their trust.
Reconstructive transplants are still rare and experimental for the most part. There have only been about 27 hand transplants in the US since 1999. Only seven partial or full face transplants since 2008, according to Dr. Vijay Gorantla, medical director at the University of Pittsburgh reconstructive transplant program.
By July, the government regulations on hand and face transplant being the same as other organs as seen by UNOS will go into effect.
Until now, next of kin have been deciding on whether or not to donate exterior parts of the body since the deceased probably had no idea that those were also included in donation, with these new regulations, people will be better aware.
Though at first the there may be less than two dozen people on a waiting list for a face transplant, there will ultimately be more because it will become easier to find a match.
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