Breakthroughs in Plastic Surgery

Face Transplant Breaks the Rules

Face Transplant Breaks the Rules
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Face Transplant Breaks the Rules

This month, doctors at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston performed the world’s seventh face transplant, and may have sidestepped the hospital’s policy in the process.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed the surgery and acknowledged that the patient had not undergone immunosuppressant therapy before the operation–a deviation from the hospital’s policy on facial transplantation.

However, some in the medical community are supportive of Pomahac’s course of action. In an interview with ABC News, doctors Joseph McCarthy and Rosamund Rhodes both weighed in with positive comments.

Dr. McCarthy, director of the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, said that the side effects of immunosuppression may be an even weightier consideration than the surgery itself.

And Rosamond Rhodes, director of bio-ethics education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, agreed.  She said, quote, “When the facial disfigurement is so severe as to merit the risks of transplantation, the extra burdens of immunosuppression hardly adds to the burden.”

According to Rhodes, it seemed as if Brigham’s policy was designed to spare the surgeons and institution from guilt or public criticism, rather than to serve the interests of patients in need of a face transplant.

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