A group of surgeons from New York has performed the world’s first-ever whole eye transplant, which has been termed a major medical revolution, though it is yet not clear if the patient will regain his eyesight. The innovative surgery was performed by eliminating part of the face and the entire left eye of a donor and implanting it into the recipient. Transplanting the whole eye has long been an ultimate goal of medical science. Earlier surgeons have had some success in mice where they have been able to reinstate partial vision, however, it has never been achieved in a living human being before. The lead surgeon, Eduardo Rodriguez has said that the surgery has lasted for 21 hours, and performing a whole eye transplant with a face is a remarkable achievement, which was impossible for many until now. Doctors made use of recipient-specific 3D cutting guides.
The recipient is a 46-year-old adult who suffered a 7200-volt electric shock in June 2021 after his face was exposed to a live wire. He endured severe injuries such as the loss of his left eye, nose, lips, dominant left arm, part of the left cheek, front teeth, and chin down to the bone. While the transplanted left eye has been showing signs of good health, like uninterrupted blood flow to the retina, responsible for getting light and transporting images to the brain, it’s not sure if the recipient will get his eyesight back. Other health experts say it is a crucial moment in their common pursuit to reinstate eyesight, which gives hope to many individuals across the world.
Doctors say that other cutting-edge methods like gene therapy to target the healing ability of optic nerve utilizing a device known as a nerve wrap to safeguard the tissue or devices that catch signals and evade the damaged pathway can be used to restore the recipient’s eyesight. Surgeons have utilized bone marrow-extracted adult stem cells to encourage nerve healing. The recipient has to visit surgeons for his monthly follow-up schedules.