BOSTON – Brigham and Women's Hospital, which performed the second face transplant in the U.S. in April, has received a $3.4 million contract from the Pentagon to perform the surgery on troops severely disfigured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense hopes the Boston doctors will be able to complete face transplants on six to eight patients over the next 18 months.
Doctors and military officials tell The Boston Globe they are unsure how many veterans qualify, but estimate the number could be as high as 200.
Patients must be missing at least 25 percent of their faces and cannot be significantly helped by conventional plastic surgery.
“All you have to do is walk through the wards here and you’d find patients you’d consider,’’ Dr. Barry Martin, chief of plastic surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, told the Boston Globe. “We’re left dealing with some pretty horrific injuries on patients who are going to live.’’
The contract also requires the hospital to measure results, including assessing whether a transplant improves a patient's life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report