Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UNOS to oversee hand, face transplants like organs

Lindsay Aronson Ess, a double hand transplant recipient, works on her dexterity in a physical therapy session in Richmond, Va..

Associated Press

Lindsay Aronson Ess, a double hand transplant recipient, works on her dexterity in a physical therapy session in Richmond, Va..

WASHINGTON — Sure, your liver or kidney could save someone's life. But would you donate your hands, or your face?

The government is preparing to regulate the new field of hand and face transplants like it does standard organ transplants, giving more Americans who are disabled or disfigured by injury, illness or combat a chance at this radical kind of reconstruction.

Among the first challenges is deciding how people should consent to donate these very visible body parts that could improve someone's quality of life, without deterring them from traditional donation of hearts, lungs and other internal organs.

"Joe Blow is not going to know that now an organ is defined as also including a hand or a face," said Dr. Suzanne McDiarmid, who chairs the committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, that will develop the new policies in coming months.

Making that clear to potential donors and their families is critical, "otherwise we could undermine public trust," said McDiarmid, a transplant specialist at University of California, Los Angeles.

"The consent process for the life-saving organs should not, must not, be derailed by a consent process for a different kind of organ, that the public might think of as being very different from donating a kidney or a heart or a liver," she added.

These "reconstructive transplants" are experimental and rare. But they're gradually increasing as more U.S. hospitals offer the complex surgeries, the Defense Department funds research into the approach for wounded veterans — and as transplant recipients go public to say how the surgeries have improved their lives.

"These hands are blessed hands to me," said Lindsay Aronson Ess, 30, of Richmond, Va., who received a double hand transplant in 2011. She had lost her hands and feet to a life-threatening infection in 2007.

Until now, deciding who qualifies for a hand or face transplant, and how to find a match and approach a potential donor's family all have been done on an informal, case-by-case basis.

In July, government regulations go into effect making the transplants subject to the same strict oversight by UNOS, which manages the U.S. transplant program, such as for hearts or kidneys.

UNOS to oversee hand, face transplants like organs 12/26/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 26, 2013 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Motorcyclist in serious condition after crash in St. Petersburg

    Accidents

    A motorcyclist is in serious condition after he crashed into a car in St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon, according to St. Petersburg Police.

  3. 20 great images from around the globe for June 16 to June 23

    World

    Photos of the week for June 16 - June 23: A deadly collision at sea, a WWII vet turns 100, gorgeous images from Bermuda, Germany, Libya, Milan and Rio, Otto Warmbier's parents lay their son to rest, and more.

    A commercial airplane flies past the moon above Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (Valentin Flauraud/Keystone via AP)
  4. William March: Capin and Cruz appear destined for District 1 race

    Local Government

    Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin and state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, appear headed for a primary in the District 1 County Commission race, which has Democrats worried they'll once again have strong candidates competing against each other in primaries, to the detriment of their chances against Republicans.

    Times Correspondent William March
  5. Watch: Gorilla dances like a 'maniac' in kiddie pool

    Blogs

    Zola, a gorilla who resides at the Dallas Zoo, has gone viral after showing off his dance moves.