Monday, November 21, 2005

Face Transplants

While the concept is as old as Rod Serling, it seems that sci-fi has now reached the labratories. The technology has not been perfected, but scientists and doctors are experimenting with face transplants. (It all seems just a bit creepy to me).

Here is an excerpt from the full article.

A team of doctors at the University of Louisville in Kentucky is moving forward with a plan to attempt the world’s first face transplant. They have applied for permission from the University’s research ethics committee to remove a face from a cadaver and transfer it to a live volunteer willing to go through with the surgery. If approved, the operation could take place before the end of this year.

There are apparently many volunteers willing to undergo a face transplant. While some people who have endured facial disfigurement learn to adjust, others do not. They would gladly take the risks involved in such a surgery for a chance to regain the normalcy that, in our appearance-conscious society where people undergo multiple surgeries just to look younger, is difficult to achieve with a severely deformed face.

The problem is that there are a number of very real and serious risks confronting the first subject. For example, the drugs used to prevent rejection by the body may fail, leaving the recipient with the nightmare of the transplant being rejected and, with death likely to quickly follow, no other options. In addition, the drugs involved are so toxic that cancer, kidney failure and other problems are likely to eventually occur, even if the initial surgery is successful.

Even more challenging is the problem of adjusting to a new face. While those with severe facial deformities might hope for any alternative, a transplanted face that does not work right, looks strange or reminds people of someone who is dead, would pose very difficult challenges to anyone who receives it.

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Blogger Noel said...

Just heard on the news this morning that a partial face transplant was done in France. No details.

12:01 PM  

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