World’s first successful face, hands transplant conducted

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Feb 03, 2021, 07:27 PM(IST)

(Representative Image) Photograph:( Others )

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While carrying out the procedure, more than 140 healthcare professionals participated in DiMeo’s pre- and post-surgical care

The first-ever successful face and double hand transplant to date has been conducted on Joseph DiMeo by a large team of surgeons and other healthcare workers at NYU Langone Health. 

Joseph DiMeo, 22, received severe burn injuries after a car accident in 2018. He was on his way to home from working in the night shift at his job in Clark, New Jersey when he fell asleep behind the wheel and his car rolled over and burst into flames. The explosion had left DiMeo with third-degree burns over on 80% of his body. 

He spent the next four months of life in the burn unit of a New Jersey hospital, including over two months in a medically induced coma. His body was so badly burnt that fingertips were amputated, and he lost his ears, lips and eyelids. 

Over the next year, DiMeo had underwent over 20 reconstructive surgeries, to the point where his plastic surgeon told him there was nothing more, he could do to help DiMeo regain functionality. 

DiMeo saw a ray of hope when Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, chair of the Hansjörg Wyss department of plastic surgery at NYU Langone Health offered to perform the breathtaking feat. 

While carrying out the procedure, more than 140 healthcare professionals participated in DiMeo’s pre- and post-surgical care. During the 23-hour procedure, Rodriguez, oversaw a surgical team of 16 and an operating room team of 80.  

The procedure was carried out at NYU Langone’s Kimmel Pavilion, a facility that allowed for six surgical teams -- one for each hand and another for the face of both the donor and DiMeo -- to simultaneously operate in both the donor and recipient rooms. 

The surgical team transplanted both hands of DiMeo till the mid-forearm and his full face, including the eyebrows, forehead, both ears, eyelids, nose, lips and underlying skull, nasal, cheek, and chin bone segments. 

According to NYU Langone Health, to restore the likeness of the donor, the team also used lifelike, three-dimensional replacements of the donor’s face and hands in the procedure. 

After the surgery, DiMeo spent around 45 days in the hospital for post-transplants and then went to a rehabilitation centre before being discharged in late November to live in an apartment close to the hospital. 

Four months after the transplant, DiMeo, who was earlier completely dependent on his parents, is able to now dress and feed himself, practice his golf swing and play pool, throw a ball to his dog, and has started resistance training with his new hands. 

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