Tuesday, January 10, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Face Transplantation

Many decades ago, the first human kidney transplant was done at BWH Hospital and ever since then multiple organ transplantations have happened- including liver, lung, heart, small bowel and so forth.
The field of transplantation has expanded so rapidly and hard to keep up with the newest developments. 

One of the Indian Hindu Gods, Ganesha can be considered the first xeno transplantation and hence certain books mention his story at the start of the history of transplantation.  Ganesha is the elephant head with the human body who's surgeon was Lord Shiva. Lord Ganesha is considered the God of wisdom and knowledge and good luck. Of all the prayers, a Ganesh Prayer is the first prayer usually performed at most Hindu ceremonies.  

I once read a very interesting interpretation of Lord Ganesha. Of all the Gods in Hindu mythology, he is very overweight. Perhaps he was on steroids for this transplant.  He is always shown in a picture next to his favorite mouse: perhaps a subtle hint of research done even back then on mice on transplantation. Finally, after surgery, Lord Shiva has given elixir drink to Lord Ganesha speculating perhaps that was the ancient version of "thyme" or "simulect"

In the midst of this, last last issue in Dec 2011 of NEJM sheds light on face transplantation. They report a series of 3 patients with complete successful face transplantation.  Similar induction as kidney transplantation was used with thymoglobulin and same triple drug regimen for maintenance regimen.  They present their data case by case with good follow up and steroids withdrawn in all cases.  

Take a look at the full article

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