Arkansas Man Receives World’s First Whole-Eye and Partial Face Transplant

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The first-ever whole-eye transplant has been given to an Arkansas man who suffered an electrocution accident at work and lost both his eyes and half of his face.

In accordance with a press release from NYU Langone, which carried out the transplant, 46-year-old high-voltage lineman Aaron James remarkably survived a 7200-volt electrical shock when a wire that was live touched his face in June 2021.

According to the hospital, linemen who experience a high-voltage shock like he did typically do not survive. 

James lost his left arm,left cheek region, front teeth, whole nose and lips, left eye, and chin in the accident.

James was seen by a group at NYU Langone in New York City, two months following his injury, under the direction of Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez.

Conversations regarding the potential for a transplant persisted even after Aaron’s Texas medical team removed his left eye because of excruciating pain. 

In anticipation of a potential eye transplant, Rodriguez along with his colleagues in New York requested that the Texas team save as much of the optic nerve as possible.

Rodriguez cautioned Aaron that the donor eye might not be able to regain vision as they discussed the possibility of performing a whole-eye transplant rather than just a partial face transplant. The transplanted eye and the brain will need to communicate in order for there to be sight.

Whole-eye And Partial Facial Transplantation

Arkansas-Man-Receives-World's-First-Whole-Eye-And-Partial-Face-Transplant
The first-ever whole-eye transplant has been given to an Arkansas man who suffered an electrocution accident at work and lost both his eyes and half of his face.

In February 2023, Aaron was identified as a possible beneficiary. In May, a few months later, the chance arose to do the whole-eye and partial facial transplantation.

Rodriguez and his associates considered the procedure to be “risky.” There had never been a successful human eye transplant performed on a living patient by any medical team in the world.

Two operating rooms were used for the procedure. Inside one room, surgeons were cutting away the portions of Aaron’s face that would be replaced with tissue from donors. Dissecting the donor eyeball and face, Rodriguez was in the adjacent room.

In the words of Rodriguez, Aaron was overjoyed when the surgery was finished and he saw his new face for the first time in the mirror.

 Aaron needs to keep taking his meds and is under constant observation in order to lower the possibility that his body will reject the transplant.

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