On May 27, the medical teams of Langone Health in New York successfully performed one of the most technical operations in the history of medicine. An eye transplant, along with reconnection to the central nervous system. This is simply the first time such an operation has been successful.
Although the operation has not yet allowed the patient to regain sight in the left eye, the latter is in an outstanding condition. The retina is perfectly soaked and according to the statement of that health institution published on November 9, this operation is a real feat.
The patient, named Aaron James, is a US Army veteran who was seriously injured in June 2021 while working on a power line. He received an electric shock of 7200 volts in the face. Although his life was saved, he lost the ability to use his left eye, as well as his nose, lips, teeth and part of his cheek.
An unprecedented operation
Eligible for transplantation, this patient was treated by the teams of Dr. Rodriguez, who is known worldwide for having already performed 5 face transplants. By using the stem cells present in the donor’s bone marrow, the doctor was able to create a healthy environment for the graft, which can then connect to the recipient’s central nervous system.
For Steven L. Galetta, Professor and Provost of neurology at New York University, the success of this operation is a real achievement. According to previous experiments, the graft should not have lasted more than three months before signs of rejection appeared. But in the case of Aaron James, that is not the case.
The scientist now hopes that this operation will be the first in a long list, and that one day a person who lost his sight after an accident will be able to regain his sight thanks to a transplant. As for Aaron James, the medical institute’s statement was accompanied by photographs.
Aaron James, who survived a 7,200-volt electric shock while working as a server in June 2021, recently received the first full eye and partial face transplant at NYU Langone Health, giving him a new sense of normalcy.
— NYU Langone Health (@nyulangone) November 9, 2023
Although the accident will mark him for life, the transplant allowed him to regain a complete face, as well as a potentially functional left eye. The patient is always closely monitored by medical teams who monitor even the smallest warnings of possible rejection.
Transplantation, the medicine of tomorrow?
In addition to this eye transplant, other extraordinary transplants have been performed in recent years. The most famous are still heart transplants, the first of which dates back to 1964. For some time, doctors around the world have been trying to diversify approaches by performing biografts (from organs of other species) or autografts (in direct collection of stem cells from the recipient).
The goal is twofold, to succeed in performing transplants even in the absence of a human graft. But also minimize the risks of patient rejection as much as possible. In order to put all the odds on their side, doctors are increasingly using stem cells. They have the ability to reproduce again and again and thus facilitate transplants.