Surgeons from New York performed the world’s first successful whole eye transplant. Along with the optic nerve, eye socket, eyelids and half of the face. The patient lost them after being electrocuted.
This eye will go down in medical history. Doctors took them from a deceased donor and, along with part of his face, transplanted them to Aaron James. Less than three years ago, while working on high-voltage networks, a man was electrocuted – destroying the entire left side of his face, nose, mouth, left eye and left hand. “I got up, went to work, and then woke up six weeks later in Dallas, Texas,” says Aaron James.
Doctors from a hospital in New York decided to transplant part of his burned face. Such treatments have not been new in medicine for several years. However, with one exception – no one has ever successfully transplanted an eye into a patient. – The fact that we transplanted an eye is a big event. Something that doctors have thought about for centuries, but have never done before, emphasizes Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon.
The eyelid does not open and the patient cannot see at all in this eye. At least for now, because the brain has not cooperated with the optic nerve yet, and half a year has passed since the surgery. But the eye is alive, the retina looks good and vision may return, but when and if at all – doctors do not know. – If it were possible to restore sight in some form, it would be wonderful. But our goal first was to perform a technical operation, to vascularize the eye – explains Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez.
From a technical and aesthetic point of view, everything worked out perfectly. – Every time I see a mirror, I stop. It’s just unbelievable, says Aaron James.
It is also unbelievable to the average person that medicine is approaching the point when we will be transplanting eyeballs into people to restore their vision. Aaron James’ surgery is proof of that.
Scientists use various methods for this purpose: from supporting the transplant with stem cells to connecting neural networks in the brain with blind eyes using electrodes. – This is just amazing. I am very impressed with the results. I’m looking forward to the next chapters in this journey, says Megan James, the patient’s wife. The patient himself is also waiting for further developments. Aaron James has already been through a lot in his life. He is a military veteran from Arkansas who has no habit of giving up in difficult situations.
Main photo source: C