Incredible Transplants

Look how far medicine has come...

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    Jeff Klepner, 57, of Augusta, Ga., lost his hands and feet a decade ago to sepsis that developed from a strep infection. But on May 4, 2009, he became the first person to undergo a double hand transplant in the United States. "Just being able to look down and kinda see the fingertips, you know, which really is the only thing that's showing at this point, I think is really neat for him. He kinda keeps looking down and looking at them," said Klepner's wife, Valarie.

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    Dec. 17, 2008: Maria Siemionow, head of plastic surgery research at the Cleveland Clinic, talks to the media about the nation's first near-total face transplant. The patient, who preferred to remain anonymous at the time, told doctors the surgery allowed her to regain her self-confidence. The patient is now able to breathe through her nose, smell, eat solid foods and drink out of a cup, Siemionow said. The surgery took 22 hours to complete.

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    In May 2009, Dr. Maria Siemionow's patient revealed herself to the world. This is a photo of Connie Culp, after an injury to her face, left, and then as she appears today. Culp left the hospital Feb. 5 and has returned for periodic follow-up care. She has suffered only one mild rejection episode that was controlled with a single dose of steroid medicines, her doctors said. She must take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of her life, but her dosage has been greatly reduced and she needs only a few pills a day.

    AP/Cleveland Clinic
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    Feb. 6, 2006: Isabelle Dinoire, who received the world's first partial face transplant, addresses a news conference at Amiens Hospital in northern France. In the 15-hour operation, surgeons used tissues, muscles, arteries and veins from a brain-dead woman to rebuild Dinoire's face. Dinoire sustained serious injuries after she was mauled by a dog.

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    Feb. 6, 2006: This photo shows Dinoire's face immediately after the operation.

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    Oct. 10, 2008: German farmer Karl Merk, 54, looks at his transplanted arms in a Munich hospital. Merk, who received the world's first complete double arm transplant, is able to perform some basic tasks, but doctors said it could still take up to two years before he re-learns how to use his hands properly.

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    Doctors spent 15 hours grafting the donor arms onto the body of Merk, who lost his own arms just below the shoulder in a farm accident several years ago.

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    Nov. 19, 2008: Doctors created a new windpipe for a woman using tissue grown from her own stem cells eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs. The transplant was given to Claudia Castillo, a 30-year-old Colombian mother of two who suffered from tuberculosis for years. After her left lung collapsed, Castillo needed regular hospital visits to clear her airways and was unable to take care of her children. The operation used both donor and recipient tissue. Only a handful of windpipe, or trachea, transplants have ever been done.

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    Nov. 19, 2008: D'Zhana Simmons, 14, of South Carolina, who survived without a heart for nearly four months, cries after thanking her doctors, at a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami. Simmons was kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood pumping device until she was able to have a heart transplant.

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    November 2008: Dr. Gero Huetter said his 42-year-old patient, an American living in Berlin who was not identified, had been infected with the AIDS virus for more than a decade. But 20 months after undergoing a transplant of genetically selected bone marrow, he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus.