A young road accident victim, who simultaneously received a new face and new hands during an operation in mid-August, is in good health and has regained the use of his hands, a first, the hospital said on Wednesday New York University NYU where the transplants were performed.
Several dozen face and hand transplants have already been performed separately, but the two previous known simultaneous transplants have ended in failure. The first patient to receive a triple transplant, in Créteil in April 2009, died of complications two months later.
In the case of Joe DiMeo, a 22-year-old from New Jersey, the 11 p.m. operation performed on August 12 did not present any complications and the patient, who attended a press conference on Wednesday, is in good health.
Victim of a swerve after falling asleep at the wheel of his vehicle in July 2018, he had been burned in the third degree on 80% of the surface of his body, including losing lips and eyelids.
During the approximately 20 operations carried out thereafter, the surgeons had also amputated several phalanges.
But even after this series of interventions, “the only possibility that he would regain a good quality of life was to consider a face and hand transplant”, explained Dr Eduardo Rodriguez, in charge of the project, during a presentation. virtual press conference.
According to analyzes from NYU Langone Hospital, the patient, with an immune system weakened by transfusions and skin grafts already carried out, risked rejection with 94% of donors.
But with the help of a local association, Gift of Life, a compatible deceased donor has been identified. The operation, which had been repeated a dozen times, required six different surgical teams and nearly 100 people in total.
The surgeons cut out the donor’s face and removed several bony parts of the skull, cheekbones, nose and chin to ensure satisfactory alignment on Joe DiMeo’s face.
Released from the hospital after several months of convalescence, the young man can already carry out many everyday gestures with his hands.
The operation “gives me a second chance at life,” Joe DiMeo explained at the press conference. “I can’t wait to get back to work. “