By Chiru Murage
Face transplants provide a new life for victims of horrific accidents, maulings, and violent crime. Because scars from such accidents can’t be hidden, face transplants give patients the ability to regain normality in their lives after a traumatic event. Since April 2014, there have been 28 face transplants around the world. Dr. Luskin, CEO of the New England Organ Bank, says “anyone with this disfigurement would argue they’re not living, they’re surviving.” The United Network of Organ Sharing “approved the first national policies for the transplantation of limbs, faces and other structures collectively known as ‘vascularized composite allografts’- which should make it easier to find donors.” Face transplants, like any other organ transplant, have specific requirements for the donor to match the recipient, such as hairline and race. “The likeliness of a perfect match can be challenging,” explains Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, professor for reconstructive plastic surgery at NYU. The first face transplant was performed in 2005 in France on patient Isabelle Dinoire who survived a mauling by her dog. Since then the field has evolved to include hyper-modern technologies and has spread to six other countries. The growing operation has caused controversy in the world of organ donation, as people will be asked in the near future whether they would like to donate their faces after death. The risk of face transplant rejection is met with doubts from some who categorize a face transplant as live changing instead of life saving. Dr. Luksin, however believes “there is no ethical issue;” to him, the “point of these surgeries” is to see a “patient walking down a crowded hospital hall a few years after surgery and no-one [notices] him” because “he looks like a normal guy.”
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