In a landmark medical achievement, doctors at New York University Langone Health conducted the world’s first surgery involving a complete eye and partial face transplant for a 46-year-old military veteran hailing from Arkansas. Aaron James, who survived a high-voltage electrical accident, underwent a 21-hour surgical procedure that replaced fifty percent of his facial structure.
As per a release by the hospital, the surgery included transplanting the entire left eye and a portion of the face from a single donor, making this the first-ever human whole-eye transplant in medical history and the only successful combined transplant case of its kind.
The outcome of regaining vision in his newly transplanted left eye is still uncertain.
The medical team at NYU Langone Health also dedicated their efforts to improving the appearance of his new face by providing structural support to the transplanted eye socket and eyelid.
The surgery was conducted on May 27 by a team of more than 140 surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, led by Eduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDS, director of the Face Transplant Program, the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, and chair of the Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone.
“Aaron has been extremely motivated to regain the function and independence he lost after his injury. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect patient,” said Dr Rodriguez. “We owe much of our success in this monumental endeavour to the exceptional institutional support we receive at NYU Langone and the unwavering dedication of our world-class team to delivering the highest level of care to our patients. This achievement demonstrates our capacity to embrace the most difficult challenges and drive continuous advancements in the field of transplantation and beyond.”
This groundbreaking milestone paves the way for new opportunities in the development of future breakthroughs in vision therapies and other related fields of medicine.